* Posts by Kubla Cant

1395 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

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Land Rover's return: Last orders and leather seats for Defender nerds

Kubla Cant
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Re: Madness...

There is no technology that can cure stupidity (yet), be it the driver or the pedestrian that is at fault. Drivers and pedestrians must drive and walk defensively.

Yes, drivers and pedestrians have an equal obligation to be careful. The reason that the driver, and the vehicle manufacturer, have greater obligations is that the outcome is almost invariably worse for the pedestrian. Injury to drivers as a result of collision with pedestrians is not common.

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Will Hay: Britain's bumbling star of the screen and skies

Kubla Cant
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a Buster Keaton tribute as Hay and Hulbert end up hanging off the clock face of Big Ben

It sounds like it was actually a tribute to Harold Lloyd. The famous clock face routine is in his film Safety Last.

(To confirm my recollection, I searched Google for "buster keaton clock". Oddly, the first page of results contains four images from the Harold Lloyd film, a YouTube link for the Harold Lloyd film, a Wikipedia article about the Harold Lloyd film, and five other links related to the Harold Lloyd film. The interwebs seem to think Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd were the same person.)

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NEVER MIND the B*LLOCKS Osbo peddles, deficits don't really matter

Kubla Cant
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Re: Super!

forged Bank of England £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes

I hardly like to contradict Wikipedia, but I should have thought that £10, £20, and £50 notes were so rare during the war that it would be hard to "flood" the economy with them. The average wage in 1942 was £6 a week.

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Putting your schlong into the reel-to-reel tape machine is a bad idea

Kubla Cant
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Razor blade

No mention so far of audio editing with razor blade and Sellotape?

As far as I know, the similar method of video editing on a Steenbeck machine lasted well into this century.

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Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Sing Something Simple

Never mind rats, they should have deployed Sing Something Simple in Room 101.

Even now, I can feel my life-force ebbing away as I recall that vile combination of gloopy music and Sunday evening blues.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Grease pencils and rheostats

One of my many non-study ways of filling my time at Oxford was doing light shows for balls*. For a big occasion we'd hire a van-load of kit from Strand Electric. The dimmer units were armour-plated monsters on wheels - typically about five feet long by four feet high to provide twelve 500W channels.

Then smaller dimmers using a solid-state device called a thyristor started to appear. I built a number of these, but mine always burned out. I guess I was destined for a career in software rather than hardware.

* Dances in marquees, not testicle lighting.

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GDS to handle Govt payments? What could possibly go wrong?

Kubla Cant
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Paying people money

The Government has a multitude of platforms for paying people money.

Unfortunately, none of them seem to belong in this century. It used to be that when you sold a car the VED went with the vehicle, so it was all a neat cashless transaction. When they changed the process, they decided instead to refund the unexpired VED to the seller, and make the purchaser re-tax the car.

I received my refund the other week. In the form of a cheque - an instrument of payment that I haven't seen for years. It sat on my desk for about a week while I tried to work out when I might be near a bank. In the end I found an old paying-in slip and posted it.

Progress, eh?

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Celebrating 20 years of juicy Java. Just don’t mention Android

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

JavaScript???

Today Java is among the world’s most popular programming languages, ranking second after JavaScript

Second by what metric? Recent years have seen a boom in rich web pages and SPAs, and Node.js means server-side JavaScript is increasingly important. But I'd be astonished to learn that there's more JavaScript code in use, or that more development effort is going on in JavaScript. Or are they counting the number of CPUs JavaScript runs on?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: +1 for JVM, -1 for Java.

But the JVM really needs a new flagship language and Oracle isn't the company to make it happen.

I agree that Java's syntax shows its age, but I wouldn't expect it to be superseded soon, and not because of Oracle. The alternative JVM languages all offer syntactical features that purport to make development quicker, or perhaps safer. Even accepting that these features are as magic as their enthusiasts believe, they can't deliver enough of an improvement to justify a switch. Things like language syntax are very important when you first start to learn a language, and they can make that process pleasant or nasty. But for experienced users the differences between any fairly up-to-date languages are not enough to affect the development process much.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Facts

It was only ever niche on the web.

I used to think the same, but then I worked at two companies that made massive use of Java in web clients. One was a wide range of tier-3 trading platforms distributed as Applets, the other a massive online game, also an Applet.

I think things like the trading platforms are distributed via Java Web Start these days, and gaming is switching to Unity.

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

Kubla Cant
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Secret questions are a hangover from the "security" procedures used by banks before the Internet.

I have to tell you that bank security questions are alive and all too predictable. DOB, who else uses the account, mother's maiden name!

Not so long ago my bank started asking questions about recent transactions and repeat payments on the account, which was probably more secure, but generally impossible to answer. They seem to have dropped that approach, presumably because so few people could answer.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Still too many failures

I wasn't born in a city, and my dad doesn't have a middle name.

My impression from completing web forms is that for Americans "city" means anything from a hamlet up.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Even worse

Ultramarine? Viridian? Charcoal? Aureolin?

But seriously, who the hell has a favourite colour past the age of six?

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Google DOG WHISTLING fails to send URLs across the room

Kubla Cant
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Re: Another airgap-proof virus vector?

running through 2 Ups systems

Data security is all well and good, but using UPS to deliver packets of data by van is going incur unacceptable latency, isn't it?

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Kubla Cant
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@Andrew Jones 2

Actually if you read the article you will find that's what it says:

Google tried dog-whistling, but found that PCs are set up for sound humans can hear, so reverted to a trilling series of notes.

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Mobiles at school could be MAKING YOUR KID MORE DUMBER

Kubla Cant
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@werdsmith

Citation?

The standard of English found on the Internet suggests your rite. But theirs a well-attested phenomenon of contextual usage. It's most noticeable in speech: children use different accents, vocabulary and syntax depending on the social context. In writing too - even the bottom quartile know that the language they use for texting is unsuitable for essays.

Bear in mind that the widespread use of phones and computers probably means that all children use written communication far more than previous generations. Paradoxically, solecisms could be the price we pay for more widespread literacy.

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A good effort, if a bit odd: Windows 10 IoT Core on Raspberry Pi 2

Kubla Cant
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The Pi needs Windows like a new Porsche needs 500 kg cement in the boot.

So does it need it or not? I once owned a 911, in the air-cooled days when the weight distribution could cause nasty surprises when cornering in the wet. One solution was to add weight in front - Porsche themselves put the battery as far forward as possible and in some cases actually added weights inside the front bumper.

The boot was, of course, in the front. 500 kg seems like it might be a bit much, though.

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Driverless cars deal DEATH to Detroit, says Barclays

Kubla Cant
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Where's my flying car?

I can't help wondering if the driverless car is going to be as endlessly deferred as the flying car. In both cases there are working prototypes and announcements that a production roll-out is just around the corner, but....

I'm just thinking of the level of ingenuity required to be a car commuter in Central London - knowledge of rat-runs and back doubles, judgement about which route is appropriate for the time of day and traffic conditions, knowing that this side road is the one to use when joining a main road because there's an upstream pedestrian crossing that causes breaks in the traffic and so on.

It's been a while since I lived in London, so last time I visited I used the satnav. I think it routed me through every major traffic hotspot it could find, and I arrived an hour late. At this rate, driverless cars will spend most of their lives stationary in traffic jams.

Navigation is the easy part of the driverless car requirement, but even that seems to need more work.

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Kubla Cant
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Detroit

a Barclays analyst reckons that points to a calamitous future for Detroit

I've never been there, but from what I read of Detroit it already has a calamitous present.

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Kubla Cant
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"No more old guys in hats holding up the flow of traffic"

I'm an old guy. I sometimes wear a hat because it can be quite draughty in my open car at 100 mph. What should I do to avoid holding up the traffic?

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Manchester car park lock hack leads to horn-blare hoo-ha

Kubla Cant
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Re: I do not think that word means what you think it means

I'm intrigued by the role of the exotically-named Autumn DePoe-Hughes in this incident. Early on in the story, she's just 'the woman who uploaded the Facebook video'. But by the end she's become a car security authority: '"Manually lock your doors or make sure you see/hear the locks lock," DePoe-Hughes advised.'

Mind how you go.

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Well YES, Silicon Valley VCs do think you're a CRETIN

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Confession

Though I have a limited grasp of economics, I read, enjoy and, I think, understand most of Tim Worstall's articles.

But I have to confess that in this case I haven't the foggiest idea what he's on about, despite that fact that the article seems to be about something related to IT, which I'm supposed to know. Should I take the trouble to find out?

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Pundits ponder perilous placement of STANDING STONES on Comet 67P

Kubla Cant
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Promises

If they were a bit closer they'd be able to read Ed Milliband's election promises on one of them.

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Milking cow shot dead by police 'while trying to escape'

Kubla Cant
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Re: "....but there was not enough room for them to do so"

Just how big a gun did they have?

Perhaps they were taking a leaf out of the Norks' book. They needed an anti-aircraft gun to kill a Defence Minister.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Gawd/ess.

They all get lead home

I think you mean "led". The Northumbrian cow in the story got lead, but it didn't get home.

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Viagra makes it HARD for malaria, bug-boffins discover

Kubla Cant
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Priapism

My initial thought was that the mosquitos' aerodynamics would be compromised by priapism. But it's the female mosquitos that fly around biting people, so I guess it works by giving them something else to do.

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Right Dabbsy my old son, you can cram this job right up your BLEEEARRGH

Kubla Cant
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Re: There are times when Starbucks is the best choice

What it's not for is identifying whose frothycapudoodah is whose

I think it probably is. Starbuck's is notable for the fact that, however many servers are behind the counter, it takes them so long to make a cup of "coffee" that you have to mill around with a mob of 20 people waiting for their drinks.

The other thing it's notable for is that nobody's job description includes clearing and cleaning the tables, so you have to eat and drink in a midden of dirty dishes and spillage.

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Messerschmitts, Sinclairs and a '50s living room: The Bubblecar Museum

Kubla Cant
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Recollections

One of the striking things about bubble cars in the 1950s was that two of them bore names familiar from wartime German planes. In the case of the Messerschmitt you could easily imagine that they'd just removed the wings and tail (assuming you were 11 years old and had only ever seen Me109s in comics). They should have produced a Stuka, too.

There was a rumour that people could get trapped in the Isetta because it had a front-opening door and no reverse gear.

I used to own an original Mini, with the pre-Hydrolastic rubber suspension. It had an 1100 engine dropped in, which didn't actually seem to make it go any faster (though repeated incompetent attempts to "tune" the SU carburettor may have been a factor). I also used to ride a James, though mine was a 250 twin.

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You're going to have stop calling people 'cold fish': THIS one is HOT-BLOODED

Kubla Cant
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Interesting article. I just wish I could stop reading the name of the fish as "oompah".

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Next-gen Freeview telly won't be another disruptive 4Ker

Kubla Cant
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It's not clear from the pictures whether the catch-up content will be accessed through the same UI as real-time broadcast. If it's just a matter of putting a BBC iPlayer button on the EPG, then I'm less than impressed. If, on the other hand, it will make it possible to avoid using the atrocious iPlayer UI, then I'll start to think about changing my TV.

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Reddit: Gonna SCRUB these TROLLS right outa my hair

Kubla Cant
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"We are unhappy with harassing behavior on Reddit; we have survey data that show our users are, too"

They needed a survey to find that out?

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Election? Pah. Here's the REAL question: Who’s the SEXIEST MP?

Kubla Cant
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"Politics is show business for ugly people" (various attributions)

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Self-STOPPING cars are A Good Thing, say motor safety bods

Kubla Cant
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Semi-self-driving

I recently acquired a car that has a Limit button on the steering wheel. It's something I would never have expected to use, but it turns out it's quite valuable. Maintaining a speed below 30 requires a slice of attention that can be reallocated to things like looking out for pedestrians and trying to open CD cases. The only oddity is the way the car seems to slow down once the de-restriction sign becomes visible.

Alongside features like automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, it makes me wonder whether the effort going into self-driving cars would be more usefully applied to devising a hybrid control model, where the car handles control functions that can be automated relatively easily, while the drive continues to handle the difficult stuff like steering and trying to open CD cases.

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How Groucho Marx lost his voice and found his funny bone

Kubla Cant
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Re: On TV

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

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Attack of the possibly-Nazi clone parakeet invaders

Kubla Cant
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Re: Time for biocontrol

The invading hordes are clones

I know that plants and insects are capable of clonal reproduction, but I didn't know birds could do it. What's the mechananism? Can they hatch unfertilised eggs?

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Massive police 'heavy equipment' robot drags out suspect who hid inside television

Kubla Cant
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Re: Huh?

I don't see what's impossible about hiding inside a TV. There are lots of people inside my TV. Some read news, others sing or tell jokes. I don't know how they get in there.

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Scot Nationalists' march on Westminster may be GOOD for UK IT

Kubla Cant
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Joke

The SNP aren' t especially left wing.... They're basically Blairite.

I expect they want independence so Scotland can invade Iraq.

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Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Re: Be Careful what you wish for.@SolidSquid

If we did leave the Union we wouldn't be subjected to nineteen-sixty-fucking-six football pish *every* *fucking* *four* *years*.

I haven't the slightest idea what you're trying to say, but the ranting tone and foul language seem to be an example of exactly the kind of toxic behaviour you are deprecating.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Be Careful what you wish for.

@SolidSquid

Actually Scotland joined the union because the nobility bankrupted themselves (the Darien Scheme was a private venture, not a state one)

What sort of state venture do you imagine might have existed in late 17th Century Scotland? If the beneficiaries of the bail-out were posessed of sufficient power to "sell out the country", then they were to all intents and purposes the state.

Even so, I think after 215 years it's probably time to forget about the Darien episode.

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Kubla Cant
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@Nigel Whitfield

I keep hearing how "England is weary of the noise" and other such stuff, but only from people on forums. Where are these English people who hate the Scottish so much, or just want them to go away?

I've never met any such person in real life

So we can disregard your view because it comes from one of the "people on forums"?

At the risk of falling foul of the same self-denying ordinance, permit me to say that I am very, very weary of the noise. I don't "hate the Scottish". What I do hate is narrow sectional interests that want to get everybody else dancing to their tune. I don't care if it's the SNP, the TUC, the RAC, Arthur Scargill or the Society for the Independence of Pimlico.

The SNP received 1,454,436 votes out of an electorate of more than 46,353,900. A lot more than Arthur Scargill, admittedly, but still less than 0.7%. I call that noise.

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Major London rail station reveals system passwords during TV documentary

Kubla Cant
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Re: Calm down

What you say obviously makes sense. The worry is that a LAN can be accidentally connected to the outside world, for example by deciding that a workstation needs Internet access for a legitimate reason.

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Smile! Brit transport plods turn bodycams on travelling public

Kubla Cant
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Re: Taser Axon body-worn cameras.

Yup. It's called an Axon because it'll zap you right in the dendrites.

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New EU security strategy: Sod cyber terrorism, BAN ENCRYPTION

Kubla Cant
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Re: I'm a terrorist?

At first I thought you had made a typo and meant "steganography".

But if you really meant "stenography", you have a really good point. Are they going to round up all the shorthand typists and Hansard reporters?

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Kubla Cant
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Facepalm

"stop IT firms offering encryption"

Of course. Because when a terrorist wants to send secret messages he goes down to PC World and buys a yard of encryption.

Anyone who develops in Java will be familiar with the idiotic scenario where you can only download so-called Strong Cryptography libraries if you promise not to pass them on to the bad guys.

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Free markets aren't rubbish – in fact, they solve our rubbish woes

Kubla Cant
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one armed bandits ... that took empty drinks cans

What happens if you win the jackpot? I'm not sure I want 1000 empty drinks cans.

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'Use 1 capital' password prompts make them too predictable – study

Kubla Cant
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Re: Password generators

Here's an entropy aware pass phrase generator I really like:

https://www.fourmilab.ch/javascrypt/pass_phrase.html

Yikes! I flatter myself that I have a good vocabulary, but a high proportion of the passphrases contain unfamiliar, foreign or obscure words.

overnice bowline sceptic octopus pleopod sentient

licorice patroon miler bondman tramline dicker

par compo gyrus carolus rejoice jack

whoreson winding digit lozenge skiplane hopper

refer hyoscine nude ala fender piton

resign hawfinch enshrine assignor boast heliport

compos trigraph slacks genital corpsman akene

matchbox squeaky plump haloid sapwood metallic

byelaw smallish turbit marking afforest praetor

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Trust

Then write down that password on an anonymous and otherwise blank piece of paper and leave it in that decorative tea-pot your mother has.

The paper's not going to last long if she keeps making tea in the pot.

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Stuff your RFID card, just let me through the damn door!

Kubla Cant
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Re: ID

This evening I have to drive 50 miles to a TNT depot to collect a parcel. I am required to produce the non-delivery card, a utility bill, and my passport. This is considerably more ID than would be needed to gain entry to most foreign countries.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Spot on description of acess control purgatory.

A few years ago I worked at a site where the bogs were only accessible from the secured area but were shared between two companies in adjacent offices. The result was that you needed a pass to get out of the bog. The passes were managed from 100 miles away by a nest of jobsworths who used to cancel them in an arbitrary way in the middle of the working day. You can guess where I was when my pass got cancelled.

More recently I've encountered a system where you need a pass to get out as well as in, and where the doors send you a stroppy email if you aren't meticulous about closing them behind you.

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Welcome, stranger: Inside Microsoft's command line shell

Kubla Cant
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Not dead yet

Curously, there seems to be evidence that the command prompt in Windows still has a tiny spark of life in it. (Or maybe I'm late discovering features in the obscure and hard-to-find documentation.) "set /?" now delivers three screens of help, and includes features like string replacement and delayed variable expansion. You can write surprisingly capable scripts now. Unfortunately there seems to be some rule that any new feature has to be invoked by obscure metacharacters. I suspect that this is a legacy of the original feeble MS-DOS parser.

I'm reasonably sure that the first versions of MS-DOS did offer command-line editing. It used function keys F1 to F9(?) and it's still available in Windows 7, although some of the functions now produce a popup prompt which obviously wasn't there in MS-DOS.

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