* Posts by Kubla Cant

1348 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

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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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The huge flaw in Moore’s Law? It's NOT a law after all

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Spelling Police

I was also bemused by this:

... the number of transistors used in a typical CPU — the CPU transistor count — would double ....

Given that this is a techie site I should think most readers would be able to guess that the number of transistors used in a typical CPU is also known as "the CPU transistor count".

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What's broken in this week's Windows 10 build? Try the Start Menu, for one

Kubla Cant
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Re: Company bloat/inertia?

When I read the article I was astounded to see reports of problems with things like Outlook and Visual Studio. The clear implication is that the operating system and the layered applications are so entangled that changes to the system break the applications.

Microsoft has a track record of making secret APIs available to its own applications, and it looks like it's come back to bite them.

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Booking.com smacked by EU competition bods. Yeah, yeah, yeah

Kubla Cant
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Zoo

The whole hotel booking site world is like a zoo. You've got booking sites doing deals with hotels, booking sites doing deals with bedbanks, booking sites that consolidate from other booking sites, possibly including other consolidators, and so ad infinitum. Over and above that is the suspicion that the hotel puts you in a crap room when you use a booking site.

I've never used Booking.com. As other commentards have pointed out, they rarely seem to be the cheapest, which makes this story rather surprising.

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Google versus the EU: Sigh. You can't exploit a contestable monopoly

Kubla Cant
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Re: So....

"What Google may do is give preference to their own services, but it does not force you to select them."

Actually, yes, they indirectly do. Ever tried the "I feel lucky" button?

No, I've never tried it. Which is odd, since you seem to think we're all forced to use it.

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Apple will cut down 36,000 acres of forest in 'conservation scheme'

Kubla Cant
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Trees are a crop

The idea that cutting trees in this way is anti-conservation is plain stupid.

They aren't cutting primal broadleaf woodland or tropical rain forest. The softwood trees that are used for paper and packaging are grown for the purpose. Less timber-based packaging means fewer trees, not more. It's a crop, and it's only grown because there is a market for it. You might as well try to conserve wheat by eating less bread.

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The Internet of things is great until it blows up your house

Kubla Cant
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Re: I have a smart bed....

night lights under the bed

Eh? Is that so the monsters under the bed don't get scared?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: BAAS?

The great thing about BAAS is that you can count them when you can't sleep.

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Scummy transients FOUND ON MARS by NASA rover

Kubla Cant
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Re: Instead of making feeble jokes about a typo

Far from improving my self-esteem, it's made me feel rather guilty. My intention was to conform to the Reg posting style, which usually has much in common with the fish-slapping dance.

I hope your cold gets better soon.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Instead of making feeble jokes about a typo

@Arnaut the less : I suspect that the commentards making and reading the feeble jokes about the typo are not doing so because they have missed the significance of the discovery. But thank you for your sermon, Headmaster.

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MIT shows off machine-learning script to make CREEPY HEADS

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: guff

@LucreLout : I agree heartily with what you say, and I've even upvoted you.

But I can't avoid the suspicion that when you say "Queue lots and lots of things that were never a pattern being ..." you probably mean "Cue lots and lots ...". The metaphor refers to the stage (or possibly film and TV studios), as in "Cue music, cue lights, cue Hamlet".

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Aussie priest BLESSES an APP – and the sacred iPad it runs on

Kubla Cant
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If your first names are Mary of the Cross, I should think you're a shoo-in for canonization.

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Radio 4 and Dr K on programming languages: Full of Java Kool-Aid

Kubla Cant
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Thumb Down

Re: "soi-disant"?

I see that Simon Rockman, the author of the condescending soi-disant expression, is billed as "Mobile and Motoring Correspondent".

His description of it as “what we used to use before HTML 5” suggests he's less knowledgable about programming languages than phones and cars. I can only imagine he's referring to Applets, which haven't been a significant area of Java use for at least ten years. The vast majority of Java runs on servers, where “write once, run anywhere” is in fact true.

Since the soi in this case is a woman, surely it should be soi-disante?

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Streaming tears of laughter as Jay-Z (Tidal) waves goodbye to $56m

Kubla Cant
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Re: CD Quality

Tidal is revolutionary in offering “CD-quality” downloads

No it isn't. I regularly buy CD-quality downloads from Presto Classical, and have been doing so for some time. I'm sure most online music retailers offer a similar service. Presto Classical also offer "Studio-quality" downloads, but I haven't got the audio equipment (or the ears) to justify the extra cost.

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Eyes on the prize: Ten 23-24-inch monitors for under £150

Kubla Cant
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Problems with Asus monitor

I recently bought an Asus VN247H - I don't know what's the difference between this and the reviewed VE247H.

I almost immediately returned it. The stand was so flimsy that the screen would wobble as I typed (maybe I should cut out the strength pills). But the main problem was that it caused the operating system to freeze. I first saw this with Ubuntu 14.10, so I backed off to 14.04, but the problem remained. Within 15 min of logging in, the system froze and required a hard reboot. Following a change of monitor, no problem.

I was surprised about this, because I imagined that the monitor is a purely passive peripheral. Maybe the problem was with driver software, but this too is surprising, as I certainly didn't install any drivers and I should have thought all 1920x1080 HDMI monitors would be identical from the perspective of the O/S.

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Google cracks down on browser ad injectors after shocking study

Kubla Cant
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Happy

Re: Unwanted ad injectors aren't part of a healthy ads ecosystem

@Pete H Which will come when "users" realise they also have a right to pay for the content they are consuming on the internet.

OK Pete, you've convinced me. Can you provide a list of the sites that are worth paying for so that we can all subscribe?

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SPY FRY: Smart meters EXPLODE in Californian power surge

Kubla Cant
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Re: Distribution architecture vulnerability

in the UK that generally applies to houses built since electricity was discovered

My house was built in about 1760 and expanded in 1810*. The original supply was via overhead poles, but the whole village seems to have been converted to underground supply about 30 years ago. When they did this, they seem to have removed the supply from the pole but couldn't be bothered to route an underground supply into the house. Instead they left a pair of bare copper wires running on insulated brackets along the side of the house and connected to the mains by a cable laid across my neighbour's roof and down his front wall into the street. He recently needed his chimney swept, but the sweep wisely declined to go anywhere near the live exposed copper wires.

* I suppose the later date is after electricity was discovered, depending on what you mean by "discovered", but it's definitely before electricity was supplied.

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Locally Integrated Menus back on Vivid Vervet’s menu

Kubla Cant
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Local menus new?

Maybe I misunderstand, but the review seems to say that local menus are new in 15.04. I have had local menus in 14.04 for some time now. ISTR I had to change a setting to get them, but it was no big deal.

The trouble is that Unity menus don't actually work as well as traditional menus. Possibly because of the auto-hide feature, it's sometimes necessary to click a menu item more than once to invoke it. Even Windows 3.0 had menus that worked as expected.

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It's the FALKLANDS SYNDROME! Fukushima MELTDOWN to cause '10,000 Chernobyls' in South Atlantic

Kubla Cant
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Giveaway

This sounds like a good time to tell the Argies "We've changed our minds. You can have the Malvinas. But you have to take immediate posession."

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Forum chat is like Clarkson punching you repeatedly in the face

Kubla Cant
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Re: Good riddance, I say

...because thats the way we learnt it as children in less politically correct times...

Why does a rhyme about Wing Commander Guy Gibson's dog cause so much fuss?

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Smart meters are a ‘costly mistake’ that'll add BILLIONS to bills

Kubla Cant
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Re: More Smart meter fail?

As far as I'm aware most UK electicity supply to premises is underground, too.

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Audi TT: It's NOT a hairdresser-mobile, the dash is too flash

Kubla Cant
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Re: Shall I just get my coat?

It is a nautical term

But I'm sure its use to describe the instrument cluster in a car (and maybe similar clusters elsewhere) is of fairly long standing.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: What about HUD?

The BMW 5 Series (and other models too, no doubt) has a HUD option. It's quite expensive - over £2k IIRC.

Yesterday sombody told me about a cheap Chinese HUD you can plug into the OBD2 port. Interesting, though I suspect that this option may turn out to have a few issues.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: I just want a dumb car

The owner could update it whenever they felt the need with their choice of units from any one of a dozen suppliers.

Sadly, eleven of the dozen suppliers were to be found in pub carparks*. While living in a respectable area of London I once had two head units stolen in as many weeks. The main advantage of integrated head units is that they seem to discourage theft.

* The logic behind this trade mystifies me. Even at the time, it was nearly impossible to buy a car without a radio. The only market for stolen head units must have been people who had just had their own stolen. Most of them would probably buy a new one on insurance, so the market must have been seriously oversupplied. I suppose the economics don't register when you're funding a crack habit.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Infotainment?

I'm pleased to find that I'm not the only driver to ask my passenger to select a destination on the satnav because it's safer than trying to do it while driving. How will you do that when the screen and controls are in the instrment binnacle?

Curiously, my current car won't let anybody use the on-screen instruction manual while the car is moving, but it will let you access the interwebs, subject to a mild warning.

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Mature mainframe madness prints Mandlebrot fractal in TWELVE MINUTES

Kubla Cant
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Re: Pi in the, er, print

Indeed. The VAX had the usual integer and float types, plus BCD, which, if I remember correctly, stores two decimal digits per byte, plus zoned decimal, which is essentially ASCII, one decimal character per byte with a sign bit added to the least significant digit. Zoned decimals were much used in the DIBOL language.

I'm also reasonably sure that I remember using BCD on a 16-bit microprocessor, but I can't recall which one. There must have been some kind of support for BCD for me to have thought of using it.

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Amazon issued with licence for delivery drone madness

Kubla Cant
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Sorry you were out

We tried to deliver your parcel, but you were out. So we bombed your house instead.

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Kubla Cant
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Donkey Hotee rode a horse (Rosinante). It was San Joe Panzer who rode the donkey.

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Hello? Police? Yes, I'm a car and my idiot driver's crashed me

Kubla Cant
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Re: Old news

At the risk of incurring opprobrium, I confess it was a BMW.

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Kubla Cant
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Old news

The first car I had with this kind of feature was manufactured in 2007, and it's been present on every subsequent car. There's a SIM in a little compartment above the rear-view mirror. I believe I can initiate a call myself, but it will do it spontaneously in case of a severe crash. I have no idea how it evaluates the severity.

I'd guess that it's also used for the car's internet connection. It's not dependent on my personal phone in any way.

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Blighty's 12-sided quid to feature schoolboy's posterior

Kubla Cant
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Flame

Coin-swallowing machine

This is slightly OT, but I have to tell somebody.

I wanted to buy a 70p item from the office vending machine. I had the exact amount in my wallet. No problem with the first three 20p coins, but my 10p was repeatedly rejected. So I pushed the coin return button, and got nothing back. It seems the machine will give change, but it won't allow you to cancel a transaction if you haven't inserted enough money to buy something. I expect this would the source of a tidy profit, were it not for the cost of replacing wrecked machines. Who designs the firmware for these things?

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Aged 18-24? Don't care about voting? Got a phone? Oh dear...

Kubla Cant
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Re: Healthy democracy

...a society where all the choices are the same and there is no way to make a meaningful choice...

Mainstream political parties tailor their policies to attract as many voters as possible. So it's inevitable that those policies tend to converge. To put it another way, the lack of choice reflects a concensus.

Obviously this is very annoying if your views differ from the concensus, but it doesn't mean that there exists a majority of people who are disenfranchised by lack of choice.

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Battle for control of Earth's unconnected souls moves to SPAAAACE

Kubla Cant
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Tim Worstall wrote a few weeks ago about how mobile phones improve the lives of poor fishermen. The mobile phone has been a significant enabling technology in the developing world, and it's an example of how intermediate technologies such as land-line are skipped. The fact that we had to live through the era of dial-up modems and acoustic couplers doesn't mean that it's not more realistic to go straight to wireless.

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Kubla Cant
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"prevent the breading of mosquitos"

Breaded mosquitos are the reductio ad absurdum of the fish-finger phenomenon. The crumb coating constitutes 99% of the snack. Mosquitos should be seethed in larks' vomit, with no coating.

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Boffins build Cyborg beetles, fly them by remote control

Kubla Cant
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Do they get a return video feed? If not, piloting the beetle into a collapsed building is going to be error-prone.

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Yay! Wearables! It's the future! Uh-oh! I'm going to be sick

Kubla Cant
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Re: "Tron, Dick or Florian"

I especially liked "the chafing of your nuts". The metre made me think of Macbeth:

First Witch By the chafing of my nuts / Something wicked this way struts.

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Health & Safety is the responsibility of Connor's long-suffering girlfriend

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Trained in money-laundering

Anyone who's ever worked at a financial company will be over-familiar with the obligatory Money Laundering Training. I think I've done it seven times. Despite the promise it appears to hold out, I've yet to be approached by a dodgy geezer with money to clean. In fact none of the jobs involved any contact with members of the public or their money.

My favourite question was one which asked "In which year did the Money Laundering Regulations become law?" Fortunately, another question made an unguarded reference to "Money Laundering Regulations 2007", so I was able to ace that one, though I still can't see how knowing the year would help me as a crime-fighter.

Investment banks appear to have whole departments dedicated to devising and enforcing training on a six-monthly basis*. Experience suggests that the best strategy is to go through the training module really fast so that the answers are still in short/medium term memory when you do the quiz. Thereafter everything is forgotten.

* Oddly, there never seem to be any courses entitled How to Avoid Buying a Load of Worthless Investments and Causing the Bank to Go Bust.

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C'mon! Greece isn't really bust and it can pay its debts

Kubla Cant
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Re: There was never a need for a combined currency all over Europe

"The European laws are better than the UK laws on human rights, data protection, food standards, farming practices.

The fact that they are more preseciptive or restrictive does not necessarily make them better.

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A Brit in California moves to the Lone Star State – just swerve the TexMex grub

Kubla Cant
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Re: Of course the drivers are polite in TX

Never disparage a mans hat, wife, kids, guns, truck, religion, football team unless you are way bigger and brought a dozen friends with you

I take it from your spelling of "color" that you're American, so I don't want to be rude. But I have to say that disparagement of most of the above list would scarcely provoke a physical attack in most parts of the world. Are Texans really that violent?

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HAPPY 20th Birthday MICROSOFT BOB

Kubla Cant
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As you talk to it you will see its lips move...

When I read that it made me imagine talking to a person who mouthed everything I said, as I said it - both creepy and annoying.

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Scotland to get National ID system 'by the backdoor', campaigners mull challenge

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

Re: Why the fuss?

It's a matter of classes of citizenship.

It's certainly the case that I am identified by various primary keys, that I'm spied on by cameras all over the place, and that my progress through the world leaves a messy financial spoor. But all this is optional. I surrender my anonymity in return for social benefits. A person who chooses to could, in theory, live totally anonymously in Britain, though it would be hard work. More realistically, he can selectively avoid identification as long as he's prepared to forego the asscociated benefits.

By contrast, in a country with mandatory national databases and identity papers, if you aren't in the database you are an un-person, not a citizen.

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Storm in a K-Cup: My SHAME over the eco-monster I created, says coffee pod inventor

Kubla Cant
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Re: Bah ... philistines

An alternative to good-old fashioned pour-over with filter paper is a Swiss Gold filter. I have two cup-sized ones that were very useful until they were superseded by the espresso machine.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Aeropress

pretentiously-named froth

According to a reply in the New Scientist Last Word section, the crema contains a lot of caramelised sugars, so it adds to the flavour and aroma of espresso.

Pretentiously-named? Well, it's Italian. Unsurprisingly so are all the other names associated with this way of making coffee, because the technology comes from Italy. You might think it less pretentious to talk about "expressed coffee", or "coffee the colour of Capuchine monks' robes", but nobody will understand you.

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Kubla Cant
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Boffin

Re: Not sure why people do not just use an espresso machine instead.

heated water, forced as steam through coffee grounds

This is precisely what espresso machines don't do. Boiling water and, by implication steam, are too hot for coffee brewing. An espresso machine uses a pump to force water through the grounds at the correct temperature (91-95 C). With all but the most expensive machines, you need to wait for it to heat up the water above boiling point in order to steam milk, and cool it down again to make more espresso.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Bah ... philistines

Bodem (French press) is the only way to go.

I've never heard of a French press* but it sounds like you may be talking about a сafetière à piston.

In my opinion, if you don't want espresso or its derivatives, the very best coffee is made in a French china cafetière of the kind made by Pilivite. The only images I can find are on Ebay, so I'm guessing they aren't made any more.

* Is it something you take penicillin for?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Too good to last

Is that what we want, a future filled with crappy products, made so for the sake of recycling?

I seem to experience a tiny virtuous thrill whenever I put an empty container into the recycling bin. The worry is that this positive reinforcement will work its way back up the chain of events, to the point where I buy stuff I don't want or need purely so I can recycle the containers.

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How many Androids does it take to change a light bulb?

Kubla Cant
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Re: G4

The ceiling fitments (lumieres, in the exotic jargon of electricians) aren't spotlights or downlighters. They're pendant fixtures with lots of G4s on stalks, so replacement with GU10s is not an option.

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Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

G4

The G4 halogen and its lampholder must be the crappiest system ever devised by an incompetent. I see that it's now possible to buy LED replacements for G4 bulbs. But the problem with G4s is not the bulbs, it's the lampholders.

I used to have G4 spotlights under my kitchen cupboards. After 2-3 years I found that they no longer worked, even with new bulbs, presumably because the contacts in the lampholders had corroded. Fortunately, new G4 spotlights are very cheap, but it's a pain in the neck to have to keep screwing new ones to the cupboard, so I replaced them with LED tape.

This isn't a solution for the ceiling lights that contain multiple G4s, only half of them working. Insert a new bulb, and it still doesn't work. Wiggle the new bulb around, and it works intermittently. So now I have to replace the entire light.

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