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* Posts by Kubla Cant

1204 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Petascale powerhouse cracks important HIV code

Kubla Cant
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Re: Re: Astonishing

What you say about species-specific viruses makes sense (to me, with nil knowledge of virology).

But viruses do jump species. Think of the various strains of flu that come from birds and pigs, and all the other human ailments that are believed to have been acquired from domesticated animals. When HIV first became widespread there was a credible theory that it was a monkey virus that migrated to humans who were bitten while trapping monkeys for meat.

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Unemployed? Ugly? Ugh, no thanks, says fitties-only job website

Kubla Cant
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Golgafrinchan

This sounds remarkably like the start of the selection process for Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B.

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Review: Philips Hue network enabled multicolour lightbulbs

Kubla Cant
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Re: Flick switch, light turns on

@Neil

Mostly I agree with you, but there's a serious use for lights that are independently switchable or dimmable in order to light a room in an attractive or mood-enhancing way. Controllable colour though? No thanks.

What would be useful (and may well already exist) is a way to control a collection of portable lights, that are powered from ordinary mains outlets, from a single location. It's useful to be able to switch all the table lamps in a room from the doorway, especially in an old house where the room height doesn't allow ceiling lights. But it's expensive and disruptive to wire up dedicated lighting outlets.

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Think your IT department's parochial? Try selling to SMEs

Kubla Cant
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I once worked for an SME that bought an accounting and payroll package and a PDP/11 to run it on. The MD negotiated a really keen price - so keen that the supplier went bust between supplying the hardware and installing the software.

Not, in the end, a wise buying decision, although it worked out well for me because I taught myself serious programming on the unemployed PDP/11.

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A Bluetooth door lock that puts the kettle on? NOW we're in the future

Kubla Cant
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Re: Wonderful

But who fills the kettle with water first?

Exactly. It reminds me of an audio system I once owned. The remote control had a button that opened the CD tray, so you could do so from the other side of the room without leaving your chair. After months of practice I was able to throw a CD into the tray from a distance of ten feet, but could never work out a way to get the old one out first.

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Windows 8.1 Start button SPOTTED in the wild

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: "I could care less for the button itself"

I'm puzzled by the voting pattern on the "could/couldn't care less" issue. There are six postings specifically about this phrase. Four in favour of "couldn't" received 2, 16, 22 and 16 upvotes. One in favour of "could" received 35 downvotes.

My posting in favour of "couldn't" got 6 downvotes. Time, the great healer, will eventually soothe my pain. But I am, as I said, puzzled. Was my explanation unclear?

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: "I could care less for the button itself"

Both are equally clear, in context.

Perhaps, but one makes sense and the other doesn't.

Brit English; "I couldn't care less" is comparable to "It could not be better", in other words, "It is very good, as good as can be"

Yank English; "I could care less" is comparable to "It could be better", which is usually taken to mean "It is bad or mediocre",

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UN report says killer bots could fight WAR WITHOUT END

Kubla Cant
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Re: Pfft

The Gulf Wars did indeed show the shortcomings of a mid-20th-century type army in the face of the latest military technology.

But Afghanistan (and before that, Vietnam) showed that technology is by no means invincible.

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Warming: 6°C unlikely, 2°C nearly certain

Kubla Cant
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Re: “Waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy,"

Will it certainly fail, or only probably?

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Tim Cook: Wearable tech's nice, but Google Glass will NEVER BE COOL

Kubla Cant
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Meh

Watches

The people in their twenties that I know (admittedly a fairly small sample) never wear watches. If you want to know the time, look at your phone.

When I were a lad, being given a watch was almost a rite of passage, but these days you give them a watch and it gets left in a drawer.

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The Tomorrow People jaunt back to the airwaves

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Tomorrow's World

I've never heard of the original TV series, so when I read the headline I assumed it was something to do with the people who presented Tomorrow's World.

But after reading on I realised that one was a stupid sci-fi fantasy and the other was The Tomorrow People.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: @Tim Roberts 1 (was: darkness)

There was a François Truffaut film called "Day for Night". I was amused to see that the French for "day for night" appeared to be "la nuit américaine". Presumably this reflects its ugliness, along the lines of "French leave", "Dutch courage" etc.

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Stand by for PURPLE KETCHUP as boffins breed SUPER TOMATOES

Kubla Cant
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Boffin

Re: Carrots

I once read that the main reason home-grown tomatoes (and possibly other vegetables) taste so much better is partly the varieties chosen, but mostly because they tend to be subject to slight water deprivation from time to time as they mature. Commercial growers make sure their tomatoes take up all the water they can, for obvious reasons.

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Paul Allen buys lovingly restored vintage V-2 Nazi ballistic missile

Kubla Cant
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Happy

Re: British Intelligence

Upvote for Between Silk and Cyanide

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Kubla Cant
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Happy

Re: @Jefe

What "Vergeltungswaffe" means is that the Nazis had the outlook of melodramatic adolescents*. "Revenge Weapon", "Eagle's Nest", "Wolf's Lair". It's like a bad Dungeons and Dragons.

*Not their worst fault, admittedly.

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Daft tweet by Speaker Bercow's loquacious wife DID libel lord

Kubla Cant
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The connection is in the mind of the reader, only if they already know what is being referred to.

I think that's how innuendo works. It's sensible that libel law covers defamation by innuendo as well as explicit defamation.

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STROKE this mouse to make apps POP, says Microsoft

Kubla Cant
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Re: Yeah, about that Windows button...

a key that's both a modifier key AND a function key

The Windows key isn't quite unique in this respect. In many applications, pressing Alt shifts focus to the system menu (or to the menu bar in Firefox, as I've just discovered). This is annoying with the kind of application that uses numerous multiple key combinations (Eclipse, IntelliJ, I'm looking at you) because I often press Alt while I'm trying to remember the other keys in the combination.

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SAP in search of autistic software engineers who 'think different'

Kubla Cant
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Stop

Re: Patch

@Patch Shouldn't they look for "software engineers who 'think different', autistic or not"?

Please, please, please, no! I spend my life correcting code written by neophytes who decided to invent their own wheel: "I'm thinking outside the box. Mine's going to be square".

Name another branch of engineering where inexperienced novices are encouraged to implement their own solutions to problems that have already been solved. Would you go up in a plane engineered on that basis?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Don't expend the effort worrying about it, it's a red herring.

@g e

Interesting shift of perspective. It sounds like the problem could be along these lines:

- Before I work with a system, I need a thorough understanding of it.

- I don't have a thorough understanding of other people's mental states and motivations.

- There are no reliable ways to acquire such understanding, so I'll leave the subject alone.

Personally, I can't disagree with any of this.

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Happy 23rd birthday, Windows 3.0

Kubla Cant
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Stop

Re: For people who knew no better

It's nothing to do with people who knew no better.

The Amiga may have been superior, and quite possibly there were other systems way ahead of Windows in the race. But they were all proprietary operating systems closely tied to their hardware. Microsoft operating systems, from MS-DOS on, conquered the world because they were good enough and ran on generic hardware. (The generic hardware was a result of lack of foresight at IBM when they built the first PCs.) So manufacturers of PC clones could sell hardware with an operating system installed.

So what about Apple? It's easy to forget that in the era of massive Windows uptake, Apple was an expensive specialist product mostly used by people like graphic designers. If the Apple had been just another general-purpose desktop computer it might well have gone the same way as the Amiga.

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Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Re: How many hours wasted?

The sad thing about installing WfW from 3.5" floppies is that you'd almost certainly have to do it again in a few weeks. Sooner or later the system would lock up, and after a forced reboot WfW wouldn't start. So dig out the WfW floppies, plus the EMM386 disk, the network drivers, and the crib-sheet for shoehorning it all into memory, and start again.

Worse than installing to floppies was backing up to them. The time taken to write to a floppy was too short to do anything else, but long enough to drive you mad with boredom.

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Kubla Cant
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Thumb Down

"popular app Notepad"

I don't think I've ever seen that combination of words before.

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Tea, Earl Grey, hot! NASA blows $125k on Star Trek 3D FOOD PRINTER

Kubla Cant
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Windows

The inkjet will handle “micronutrients, flavour and smell” ... but everything will taste like ink.

Will it be able to produce "a concoction that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea"?

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BMW offers in-car streaming music for cross-Europe road trips

Kubla Cant
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Re: My method

The problem with this solution is that you have to fiddle with the MP3 player to select music. A service that streams on demand, or an integrated media player, allows you to use the head unit controls and screen, which is a bit safer.

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Kubla Cant
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Embedded SIM

There's been an integrated SIM and 3G connection for at least the past five years. You can use it to browse the Internet, as long as the car is stationary and you're very, very patient. Entering text using the iDrive's twiddle/press interface is dire. You can also send a location from Google Maps to your car's satnav.

The traffic data, I think, is supplied through a radio link. It's certainly available on satnavs that don't have a 3G data connection.

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FLABBER-JASTED: It's 'jif', NOT '.gif', says man who should know

Kubla Cant
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I believe "sequel" reflects the fact that it was originally Structured English Query Language.

But in my experience, Oracle users say "sequel" because it's easier to say "sequel-plus" and "P-L-sequel". Sybase and Microsoft users say "S-Q-L" because it's easier after "Transact".

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Hard G, Mr Wilhite (what sort of name is that anyway?)

When there's an LCD display it makes it easier to enter your PIN number.

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Kubla Cant
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Pirate

Re: Apologies to Izzard

And we also say ghoti.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: nah mate

In America, Jif refers to peanut butter. End of story.

You clean the kitchen with peanut butter? Must be messy.

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Kubla Cant
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giga

I say gigabyte with an initial hard {g}, but there seems to be a community for "jigger-bite".

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: idiots saying "jay-peg"

I disagree. There's a fairly well-established convention that when adjacent consonants in acronyms can't be pronounced as a composite, the leading consonant(s) get their alphabetic pronunciation. Hence jay-peg, bee-dos, etc.

I don't know about you, but I stopped naming letters "a, buh, cuh,...juh" at the age of six.

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EU boffins in plan for 'more nutritious' horsemeat ice cream

Kubla Cant
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Re: hecatonne?

A hecatomb was an Ancient Greek sacrifice to the gods of 100 cattle. I suppose this is related.

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Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: "a Russian company specialised in production of protein-enriched food stuffs"

That's a phrase to inspire confidence, isn't it?

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Space dogs and Dragons: A brief history of reentry tech

Kubla Cant
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Oak

I'm sure I read that one of the Chinese capsules had a heat-shield made of oak. Maybe that was just Yankee devil propaganda.

I don't know why an oak heat-shield should be funny. If it's a suitable material it makes sense to use it. But I can't get rid of the image of astronauts re-entering the atmosphere on a dining table.

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Review: Sony Xperia SP

Kubla Cant
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Thumb Down

Battery

My HTC phone is on its fourth, maybe fifth, battery. OK, it's three years old. Maybe batteries have improved in that time, but I don't suppose they've become immortal.

I like the look of this phone, but I don't fancy spending £300 on a phone that turns to junk when the battery dies.

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They WANT to EAT YOUR COMPUTER - welcome your ANT overlords

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Solution???

Upvote for "a cross between a Jack Russell and a Tiger Tank" - brilliant.

But "egregarious"? Seems to a combination of "egregious", meaning "standing out from the flock", and "gregarious", meaning "running with the flock".

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Stephen Hawking nixes Intel voice upgrade plan

Kubla Cant
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@Hieronymus Howerd

Yet bath overflows do happen. My impression is that two taps can fill faster than the overflow drain can empty.

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Marks & Sparks accused of silently bonking punters over the tills

Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Bad faith

I can see that contactless payments offer benefits for retailers because they speed up transactions and reduce cash throughput. I suppose there's a benefit for card companies because they increase card throughput. But what's in it for me?

The BBC programme included these pathetic attempts at exculpation from a card company drone:

"If you lose cash, it's gone, but that's not the case with a card" (nothing to do with contactless payment).

"The most you can lose is £50" (I want a system where the most I can lose is zero).

OK, maybe the system is really secure, and the chance of error infinitesimal. But I don't want it, and I regard the card companies' refusal to issue cards without contactless payment as evidence of bad faith.

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Crack Army pilot to be first PROPER British astronaut IN SPAAAACE

Kubla Cant
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Countdown commencing

Breaks the metre, it should be "Commencing countdown".

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So you want to be a contractor? Well, here's how it works

Kubla Cant
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Re: OK, just a couple of points as advisories...

I don't expect upvotes for this, in fact I can scarcely believe I'm doing it, but I'm going to defend agents.

Many of the agents who call me are wasting their time and mine by following up an inappropriate match. Few of them are people whose company and conversation I'd naturally choose. Some of them are unscrupulous.

But would I want to do their job? Not in a million years. Is the service they provide valuable to me? Of course it is - that's where my income comes from.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Indeedy

Dunno about you, but I've frittered it all away on mortgages and school fees.

The best contracting year is the first. Suddenly your income is hugely more than what you're used to. By year two you're getting used to it, and by year three your "essential" expenses have expanded effortlessly to match your income. That's life, I suppose.

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Kubla Cant
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Joke

Re: Women Contractors

£6.5M is a typical contract rate.

(see icon)

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US government wants security research on car-to-car nets

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

“vehicle cybersecurity”

That horse has well and truly bolted already. A while ago, El Reg reported on a fascinating paper describing how researchers attached a radio device to a car's system bus and were able to take control of anything. In theory there's supposed to be security separating the safety-critical systems from things like the radio, but they found that it was easily circumvented, and that they were able to take over the brakes and accelerator of a moving car.

You only have to spend some time with the UI of a car's computer to realise that it was designed by people who are new to this sort of thing, and probably more at home with nuts and bolts.

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Microsoft conceals job ad in Bing homepage

Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: So here is the question-

My recollection is that if you have the debugger enabled in IE, it offers to debug any site with errors (maybe that's just script errors).

This is especially annoying, as few sites are completely error-free. If you're working on cross-browser pages, especially if you're targeting earlier versions of IE, then you'll certainly have the IE debugger enabled because IE is where your bugs will be.

A good approximation to hell is trying to debug client script on IE6 using its so-called debugger. It generally terminates with a stack dump on good days, or a BSOD on bad ones.

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Boffins find world's oldest virgin water trapped in Earth's crust

Kubla Cant
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Pirate

Re: The perfect gift . . .

[tm registered to Coca Cola]

Unlikely. When Coca Cola launched a bottled water brand in Britain it was soon revealed that the contents were actually tap water, from Surbiton, if I remember correctly. It wasn't long after that that the brand was withdrawn.

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Kubla Cant
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Piece of cake

So all they have to do on Mars is find a zinc and copper mine 1.5 miles deep, get to the bottom in one piece, then drill boreholes. Should be a piece of cake for the Curiosity rover.

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Things that cost the same as coffee with Tim Cook - and are WAY more fun

Kubla Cant
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Re: Charger...

Why does a dog lick his balls?

Because he can.

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Dark blue side of the Force used to quell Star Wars nerd clash

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Who won?

It was a meeting of Star Wars enthusiasts. Nobody won: they were all losers.

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Microsoft: YES! You can have your desktop back again for FREE!

Kubla Cant
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Boffin

Re: “advance the bold vision”

you can rely on people's ability to discern pictures more quickly than words

Can you cite any reliable evidence for this? It seems to be widely believed, but personally I doubt it.

The process of see word->read word->associate with concept is complicated and hard to understand, but it's very well-trained in literate people. It's fast enough to allow assimilation of pages of text at an average rate of one word every quarter second.

In the case of pictures, the idea is that process is more like see image->associate image with concept. The trouble is that the relationship between a picture and a concept is far vaguer than that between a word and a concept, so the second step in the process is slow, and may require some sort of probabilistic filtering produce an unambiguous result. This is one of the reasons why alphabetic writing displaced pictograms.

I get very annoyed with instruction leaflets that decide to set the clock back 47 centuries and communicate entirely in pictures. In the case of taskbar buttons, I find I often click one with the wrong icon but similar colours to the one I want, and I don't find a blue elephant to be the obvious symbol for a database.

Road signs are probably the exception, because they use a small set of images and you're obliged to learn what they mean, but even then some of the more obscure road signs require a lot of mental gear-churning before you can be certain what they mean.

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Rolls-Royce climbs aboard Bloodhound SUPERSONIC car

Kubla Cant
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Re: I'm not sure what the point it.

Whitney was right "The children are our future"

What did Pratt say?

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