* Posts by Kubla Cant

1542 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Email apparently from Home Office warns of emails apparently from Home Office

Kubla Cant
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Refunds

There's a similar irony in the new car tax (VED) system. You pay for your car tax online, and you no longer have to display a tax disc. +10 for belated arrival in the 21st century. But if you sell your car you have to apply for a refund of the remaining tax, which is sent as a cheque in the post. -10 for lack of follow-through.

I suspect that the offices of HMRC and DVLA are still like offices used to be half a century ago. For anything to do with paying out money you have to go to a cashier's office where a grumpy old geezer behind a barred window grudgingly writes out cheques using a dip pen.

("CHEQUE PAID IN A BOOTLE PAYMENT OPS" - I bet the cheque would clear quicker if it wasn't in a bottle.)

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Microsoft plays Windows 10 whack-a-mole – still fixing bugs with TWO days to go

Kubla Cant
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Re: ?

The first para says Microsoft are "beavering away", but it's not a beaver, either. According to the image filename, it's a gopher (which I think is the same as a prairie dog).

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Why does it take 8 hours for my posts to be approved?

Kubla Cant
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Comparison

I think it's worth ponting out that the forums of El Reg are much more civilised, intelligent and readable than most other forums I've seen. I don't know whether it's the vigilance of the moderators or the moderation of the commentards, but the result is good.

It's a shame that the comments sections of even quality newspapers seem to be populated by mouth-foaming carpet-biters. I was looking at some book reviews in The Spectator the other day, and it was depressing to see all the personal vituperation in the comments - on book reviews! The trouble is that once a few loonies get established in a forum they attract more loonies and scare off people who have reasonable opinions they'd like to share.

It may be that the upvote/downvote button helps. When I see an opinion I disagree with, I can just click to downvote; so much easier than typing "@X: You are a malignant imbecile and anyone who agrees with you is a drivelling moron."

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Invisible app ads slug smartmobes with 2GB of daily downloads

Kubla Cant
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Re: @bazza The poor advertisers...

Isn't a lot of advertising deductible? So the money is going into advertising instead of taxes.

No. Advertising is tax-deductable in exactly the same way as any other cost of sale - materials, manufacturing costs, distribution costs, staff wages and so on. Advertising is a more visible irritant than any of these, but that doesn't alter the fact that it's an essential element.

Like most people, I find it annoying that the roads are full of heavy articulated trucks. But it would be idiotic for me to suggest that companies should distribute everything by canal, or to complain that the money spent on trucking is money diverted from taxes. To suggest that the abolition of advertising would increase tax revenues is equally incorrect.

Read Tim Worstall's recent article debunking the Grauniad's claim that capital allowances are a subsidy for companies for a similar case.

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New study into lack of women in Tech: It's NOT the men's fault

Kubla Cant
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warning - anecdotal evidence and small sample

In my dealings with Far Eastern IT workers I've formed the impression that the proportion of young people who choose IT because it's a good job is higher than it is in the West. Neither group is struggling to put food on the table*, but I suspect that Western schoolchildren get much more "just do whatever makes you happy" career advice. It's not a cultural difference in the kind of work you do, but in the constraints on your original choice. This may also explain differences between European countries.

* I can't help finding this amusing. "I really wanted to be a seamstress, but my family was so poor that I had to stay on at school studying study maths to A level, take a 3-year CS degree, then slave away writing computer programs all day."

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Today's smart home devices are too dumb to succeed

Kubla Cant
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Re: LAMP NOT BULB!

Bulbs grow, lamps glow.

So what do lightbulbs do?

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It’s DEJA VU: Customer forgets to tell us about essential feature AGAIN

Kubla Cant
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Office toilets

Architects who design office buildings invariably seem to delegate design of the toilets to a work-experience intern.

Just about every one I've ever used has four cubicles, four urinals, four handbasins and one or two hand driers. Under light usage this isn't a problem, but you don't have to run a Monte Carlo simulation to see that heavy usage is going to cause the room to fill up with people shaking drips off their fingers and drying their hands on their trousers.

It's even worse when the builders have decided to save money by installing Acme Economy brand hand driers, the sort that burn your hands with a feeble stream of hot air, yet never actually dry them.

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Want longer battery life? Avoid the New York Times and The Grauniad

Kubla Cant
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Re: JavaScript?

The JavaScript framework du jour seems to be AngularJS. Unlike JQuery, where the script is essentially driving the application in response to browser events, AngularJS seems to use some kind of continuous polling. It's a pleasure to work with: you can bind HTML tags to script variables declaratively, and see them all updated when the value changes, but I can't help wondering what kind of overhead this incurs. What's more, the preferred AngularJS architecture involves loading everything into one single-page application, so you'll have a substantial memory footprint as well as a busy processor.

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Acer Revo One RL85: A pint-sized PC for the snug

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: Moving "users" folder

I too skimmed through the MS KB article and thought "WTF?". Keeping the O/S, installed programs, and user data separate was a well-established practice back when MS-DOS was launched, but even now it still seems to be tricky and exotic for Microsoft.

On a related topic, can anybody imagine why, when MS eventually decided to implement symlinks, they made it so you need Admin privilege to create them?

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HP slaps dress code on R&D geeks: Bin that T-shirt, put on this tie

Kubla Cant
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Re: Suit'n'Tie Guy

When I see a coder wearing shirt and tie, all I think is that he's another modestly skilled type who couldn't cut it in the arena with the talented coders.

When I have to deal with someone in a suit and tie, I find myself instinctively distrusting them on sight.

I see a tie, I assume 'sales rep'.

And you're all wrong. There must be two dozen posts here that claim only casually-dressed techs are any good, you can't trust people in suits, pin-stripes are evil, and so on.

Can't you see that this is exactly the same as the mindset displayed by the HP management, the mindset that is being ridiculed here?

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Kubla Cant
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Smart casual

Are there any two more depressing words in the language? Back in the time when everybody had to wear a suit to work, life was simple. You got up in the morning and put on a clean shirt and the suit you didn't wear yesterday. No thought or planning required. Evenings and weekends, you could wear what you damn well wanted.

It's a fallacy to assume that the workplace was smarter as a result. When work clothing is something you only wear for work, and that under duress, you aren't going to take much care over it.

Then some management halfwit decided to "relax the dress code", but lacked the nerve to abolish it. Your evening/weekend gear doesn't fit this description, so you have to acquire an additional wardrobe of the kind of awful clothes that golfers wear. Every morning you have to assess whether your outfit is both casual enough and smart enough.

A company where I recently worked did dress-down Fridays - another stupid idea. But one week in three there would be an email cancelling the dress-down because "we have customers visiting".

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Stand out from the crowd

Or why not as The Great Engineer himself, Isambard Brunel?

You definitely wouldn't be allowed the cigar.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Tidy Desk

I believe in Contextual Indexing. I know where something is because I can remember what I last used it for.

Maybe that should be "I would know where something is if I could remember what I last used it for".

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NASA: 'Closest thing yet to ANOTHER EARTH' - FOUND

Kubla Cant
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Re: [...] science being right and religion being bunkus

Religion is not "bunkus", it is a necessary tool in the construction of a society that is not based on you-got-what-I-want-give-it-or-I-kill-you.

You're reversing cause and effect. Religion, being a human construct, is an expression of innate, or at least culturally ingrained, human motivations.

Furthermore, if religion abolishes you-got-what-I-want-give-it-or-I-kill-you (which is unproven), it does so in order to substitute you-believe-something-different-convert-or-I-kill-you.

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Universal Pictures finds pirated Jurassic World on own localhost, fires off a DMCA takedown

Kubla Cant
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Re: Personally....

hire the most expensive lawyers to prosecute itself ... hire the next-most-expensive set of lawyers to mount a defence

If the price of lawyers is a measure of their competence, it would be safer to do it the other way round, just in case there's a custodial outcome.

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The Register's resident space boffin: All you need to know about the Pluto mission

Kubla Cant
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To sum up, it's called Sharon because it's named after a woman who isn't called Sharon.

Shome mishtake, shurely?

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Kubla Cant
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@Loyal

Interesting; I didn't know that. So presumably James Christy's surname is pronounced 'Shristy'?

Although Charon is the ferryman in Greek mythology, it seems the Romans used the same name. Apparently Virgil called him Charon in The Aeneid (I confess I haven't read it in Latin). If so, the Pluto/Charon pairing is legitimate.

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Kubla Cant
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A fantastic achievement, and a fascinating article.

I wish I could say the same about Monday evening's The Sky at Night on the same topic.

For some reason they repeatedly called Pluto's moon Sharon. It's news to me that the Lord of the Underworld had an Essex girl rowing the boat across the Styx. Even though they're astronomers, they surely can't be unaware of the mythical origins of the names. "Charon" starts with the Greek letter chi, which I've always assumed to be a slightly aspirated "k" sound. It's not as if there isn't a major world religion that's spelt with chi.

I have a vested interest: like many other people in the world, my given name starts with this phoneme. Am I going to have to call myself "Shris" in future?

Another couple of points. Why do TV presenters think the best way to show a picture on my TV screen is to show me their sodding tablet? If they can get the picture on the tablet, they can show it full-screen on the TV. And why does The Sky at Night have to be presented by irritating hyperactive nitwits? Doubtless highly-qualified nitwits, but the point remains.

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Storage unicorns and their hyped-up horns

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

What is or are "proboscii"?

The singular noun is proboscis. The root of the word is Greek, but it seems to have attained its current form in Latin. Regular Latin nouns ending -is have a nominative plural ending -es, so the inflected plural would be probosces. As we're speaking and writing modern English, it might be safer to say "proboscises".

Contrary to widespread belief on the Interwebs, no Latin words are pluralised by adding "ii" to their root. This fallacy probably arises from plurals like radii, but the "i" in radius is part of the root, not the inflected ending, and it is invariant through all cases and numbers.

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Even Microsoft thinks Outlook is bloated and slow

Kubla Cant
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Re: Brilliant idea, Microsoft

I'm sure that the vast majority of desktop users have their email client set to start automatically when they log in. It keeps on running throughout their session. That's how they can see incoming email traffic (and get meeting reminders if they're using Outlook).

Outlook may be slow to start, but most users rarely see this happening. It's not particularly slow when composing or sending messages.

As far as I can see Microsoft's new application is something that you'll run in addition to Outlook. So their response to Outlook bloat is to add more bloat.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Outlook for Phones

Lotus Notes. Bloated, slow, and with a user interface that was bang up-to-date in 1989.

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NSPCC: Two nonces nailed by cops every day

Kubla Cant
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Re: Nonce?

I think the original application is linguistic. "For the nonce" is an archaism meaning "for the time being". Our friends at Wikipedia say:

A nonce word (also called an occasionalism) is a lexeme created for a single occasion to solve an immediate problem of communication. The term is used because such a word is created "for the nonce".
The use of "nonce" in cryptography and security presumably derives from this.

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Blessed are the cheesemakers, for they have defined the smidge

Kubla Cant
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full-fat title "smidgeon", but "smidgen" or indeed "smidgin" are legit alternatives

A smidgeon is a bird, isn't it?

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Windows 10 on Mobile under the scope: Flaws, confusion, and going nowhere fast

Kubla Cant
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Windows 8: try to foist a tablet interface on desktop users. Result: failure.

Windows 10: try to foist a desktop interface on phone users. Watch this space...

Windows 11*: everybody gets the interface from a TV remote control.

* or 12, or 15, or 3000...

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UK.gov makes total pig's ear of attempt to legalise home CD ripping

Kubla Cant
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Re: Compensation for what?

If commentards had to pay a few hundred thousands of pounds for every barmy assertion, I think it would concentrate minds wonderfully.

Saucer of milk for Mr Orlowski, please.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Compensation for what?

If I buy a CD (do people actually still do that?)

Yes. The CD is a useful archive copy. It's likely to stay around for much longer than most of the phones, computers, cars, USB sticks etc that I may copy the content to.

Also, availability of good quality downloads is variable. I'm certainly not going to pay money for over-compressed MP3 crap, even if that's what I listen to on portable devices.

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Kubla Cant
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The sooner artists start thinking of digital copies of their music as advertising for their talents rather than the product itself, the better.

Performers apparently get about 13% of the selling price of CDs, so it's probably not a huge source of income for any but the biggest sellers.

The record companies, on the other hand, take 30% of the gross selling price. I therefore suspect that the artists who want compensation aren't the performing artists, but the piss-artists and con-artists of the recording indistry.

Source: BBC News

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GOOGLE GMAIL ATE MY LINUX: Gobbled email enrages Torvalds

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Linux spam

Top marks to Google. I for one am sick to death of Linux spam.

Every day I get numerous emails from Nigerians offering me ten million lines of code if I'll send them my bank details. Then there are the offers of kernel patches to increase my penis size, to say nothing of the improbable emails from young women offering hot device driver action.

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Reg top tip: Don't have the same name as someone else if you use Facebook's Instagram

Kubla Cant
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Andrés Iniesta, a Spanish man who is not a member of FC Barcelona

I don't know much about football, but is it really so unusual not to be a member of FC Barcelona? What percentage of Spanish adult males are members?

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Cops baffled by 'canal corpse' that turned out to be COCONUTS

Kubla Cant
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That's how they do migrate

Coconut palms grow on island beaches where the nuts can fall into the sea and drift off to other islands.

It's a while since I saw the canal in Stretford, but from what I read of the improvements in Manchester I assume that all the canals are now fringed by sandy beaches with palm trees.

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Rise of the swimming machines: US sub launches and recovers a drone

Kubla Cant
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Question

Excuse my ignorance. How do they communicate with the drone, and over what range is it possible?

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2015 Fiat 500 fashionista, complete with facelift

Kubla Cant
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Re: units

litres per 100 km

All cars these days are sold with fuel consumption statistics in litres per 100 km and miles per gallon. Most newish cars will display their fuel consumption in either unit.

Unfortunately, we measure distance in miles but we buy fuel in litres, so calculating the cost of a journey requires knowledge of the conversion factor* and a little bit of unnecessary mental arithmetic. What we really need is miles per litre.

*For some reason, probably laziness, I never know the litres/gallons conversion, but I can always remember gallons (of water) to pounds, pounds to kilos (approx) and, of course, kilos (of water) to litres. This isn't a good calculation to be doing in traffic, and I suspect my results are too approximate to be useful anyway.

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Being common is tragic, but the tragedy of the commons is still true

Kubla Cant
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Feedback

My knowledge of nomadic pastoralists is meagre, to say the least, and previous posts have made it clear that the vision of peaceful sharing in the Mongolian steppes could not be further from the truth. The repeated invasions of Europe from the East* were more likely to have been caused by resource depletion than mindless aggression.

That said, I suspect that in practice the tragedy of the commons must depend on the efficientcy of the feedback loop. If shortage of resources culls the population of depleters fast enough, then a stable state can be achieved. The problem is that although homo sapiens has fairly low fertility, the resilience and adaptability of the species are such that it can usually survive exhaustion of one resource and go on to deplete another.

Lemmings have a large 3-4 year population cycle that might be due to this kind of feedback. I suppose we have yet to find if there's an equivalent cyle for us.

* Huns and possibly Goths, as well as Mongols.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: 5000 years

@P.Lee In the past, there was little to be gained by having ever-large flocks of sheep

On the contrary, Eastern England has many insignificant villages with magnificent churches paid for out of wool profits. The fact that the Lord Chancellor sits on something called the Woolsack is an indication of the money in sheep-runs.

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Evil computers sense you’re in a hurry and mess with your head

Kubla Cant
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Re: Cheap components

@AC So you didn't buy from a supplier with reliabilty and maintenance? You didnt buy with adequate warranty? You didnt invest in resilience or a plan B?

Thank you for injecting a note of seriousness, even sententiousness, into an otherwise intolerably light-hearted discussion. BTW, your perfect world is impaired by a missing apostrophe.

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Kubla Cant
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What do you mean you can’t find the printer?

It was an act of evil genius to invent the wireless network printer.

Usually, a recalcitrant printer would grudgingly get on with it when you used the cable that tethered it to your computer to send threats direct to its interface. Now they just sit in the corner sipping on mains power and only receiving the messages they want to hear. I suspect they spend most of their time posting snide messages about their owners on social media sites only accessible to printers.

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WINGED VELOCIRAPTOR 'from HELL': Closest thing ever to a real DRAGON?

Kubla Cant
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Re: Hang on.. 6 limbs?

feathers evolved because birds became homeothermic

Sounds credible. I believe it's now thought that dinosaurs were homeothermic. I know nothing of dinosaur dermatology, but I can imagine that feathers are at least as likely a way of developing an insulating layer as fur.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Hang on.. 6 limbs?

No, four limbs. Two large legs at the back, and two rather puny forelimbs. The wings are part of the forelimbs (or vice versa). It's clearer on the picture of the fossil.

This does raise the question of what use are wings that don't enable you to fly, I've tended to assume that modern flightless birds have wings because they've inherited them. This creature and its kin seem to have developed wings as a sort of decorative feature on the forelimbs. The implication is that wings (and feathers, too) evolved in response to some non-flight-related selection pressure and then turned out to be useful for flying.

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Brit school software biz unchains lawyers after crappy security exposed

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Some people are very heavily invested and don't want to loose their shirts.

If they keep their shirts tucked into their belts, they won't be loose.

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Europe a step closer to keeping records on all passengers flying in and out of the Continent

Kubla Cant
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Charlie Hebdo

So this measure is to be implemented in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders, and a previous one in response to 7/7.

Is there any evidence at all that the Charlie Hebdo attack could have been prevented by this sort of information gathering? The 7/7 bombers came from places like Leeds and travelled by train, so you'd need to record what kind of crisps they bought from the snack trolley.

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Horrifying MOCK BACON ABOMINATION grown in BUBBLING VATS as ALGAE

Kubla Cant
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Re: Snake

This farm shop sells frozen "exotics" in its butchers. I'm pretty sure I've seen snake and alligator, but I haven't tried either. Although they do keep Nile crocodiles on the farm, and the nearby Raptor Centre has pythons, I don't know if all or any of the exotic meat is home-raised.

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Kubla Cant
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all of the substantial number of different kinds of bacon in Tesco has added water

It goes against the grain to praise Tesco, but at the moment I'm buying their Finest dry-cured bacon, and it's completely slime-free. It's annoying how often allegedly dry-cure bacon is full of water (notably Waitrose own brand). Presumably they pump the water in before or after the dry-curing process, or maybe they make the pigs drink a lot.

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Kubla Cant
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Does it taste naturally of bacon, or do they add bacon flavour? If the latter, is it the flavour of good bacon or nasty bacon? And do they use bacon because it's the only flavour strong enough to disguise the native flavour of the algae?

Most important of all, does it fry without exuding white slime, unlike 90% of supermarket bacon?

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The Great Barrier Relief – Inside London's heavy metal and concrete defence act

Kubla Cant
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Re: Balanced article

Somehow I suspect the number of 'Merkins proudly sporting "Stockport College" on their chests is somewhat smaller.

But there do seem to be quite a lot wearing "Oxford University" sweatshirts. Maybe they're just Rhodes Scholars.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Balanced article

-1 for "The Bakelite and white-coat era systems were phased out in the 1990s".

I'd be astounded if an installation opened in 1984 used Bakelite. I know that 1984 seems like ancient history, but Bakelite belongs to an earlier era. It was invented in 1907 and by 1993 was old enough to be designated as something called a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

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Behold: Pluto's huge ICE MOUNTAINS ... and signs of cryovolcanoes?

Kubla Cant
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Re: mostly...Only Orpheus has returned from Hades.

Can't help you with the frogs, I'm afraid.

In space, no-one can hear you ribbett brekekekex koax koax.

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Ex-MIT prof jailed for 'making experimental film' about bank robbery. In a bank. Without saying it was a film

Kubla Cant
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How tiny the crime of bank robbery is in comparison to the crime of being a bankster, robbing entire countries while sitting at the table with queens and chancellors as "advisers" but in reality, as the real decision makers.

Yawn.

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Did MARS once have OCEANS? Curiosity discovers continental crust

Kubla Cant
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Do they speak Italian on Mars?

the red planet's cotta surface

Panna cotta? Terra cotta? Or just "cooked"?

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My top three IT SNAFUs - and how I fixed them

Kubla Cant
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Heard about this intermittent problem in an office I once worked in. This was in the days of standalone PDP-11s, before networks and PCs. Every few months, there would be evidence of serious disk and memory corruption problems, lasting about an hour.

The office was next to the Thames. Visiting warships would moor alongside HMS Belfast, which was just opposite. When the time came to leave, the radar operators used to run some kind of test, with the result that all nearby computers were thoroughly zapped with radio waves.

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Sixty-five THOUSAND Range Rovers recalled over DOOR software glitch

Kubla Cant
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Range Rover Clown Car

So there's a software "feature" in the Range Rover that opens the doors while you drive along. Is there another that makes the wheels fall off?

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