774 posts • joined Monday 28th June 2010 14:47 GMT
Fedoras and trenchcoats? Those are old-style cops.
Old-style crooks wear striped jerseys and masks. They carry sacks labelled "Swag".
Form v Function
I like things to work well. But a lot of what is considered functional design is just a styling trope. A better name for it would be "functionesque".
Ask anybody who occupies a 1950s "machine for living in" (le Corbusier) with a flat roof how functional it is. Check out all the "functional" 1960s buildings that are now rightly being demolished because they're inefficient, uncomfortable and badly-made. Try spending any length of time sitting in a Barcelona chair (Perhaps I'm being unfair here - Mies van der Rohe was apparently horrified to learn that people wanted to sit in them. He designed them as chairs for looking at.) You see many examples in the kitchen, where homely implements that have evolved to do a job are stylishly redesigned so they don't work very well, like the Philippe Starck lemon squeezer.
When I was a teenager, back in the Analogue Age, you could make free calls from phone boxes by jiggling the receiver rest to simulate pulse dialing. We called it "phone tapping", though even in those days that meant something different. A little later there was a technique for making long-distance calls at local cost by dialing local hops all the way to the destination. The attenuation was appalling, but long-distance calls were expensive. Finally, people learned how to manipulate the phone system with audio oscillators, a practice known as "phone phreaking".
I was led to believe that people who were prosecuted for these practices were charged with stealing electricity to the value of a fraction of a (pre-decimal) penny. I don't know what the penalties were - transportation to Botany Bay, probably.
Re: Eventually ...
My work activities are such that daylight isn't important (or even, sometimes, visible). But I have my own story of the stupidity of DST.
For 20 years or more I cycled through central London to work. People used to say "You're brave", and I would answer with a self-deprecating smirk. When I moved to the country, I thought my cycle journeys would be safer and more enjoyable. They were, until the clocks changed.
The mornings, of course, were OK. At this time of year it gets light at about 6:30 in middle England. But it gets dark well before home time. Try cycling across the Cambridgeshire fens in the sort of darkness that I could never have imagined when I was a city dweller. The roads are narrow and bounded by ten-foot ditches. Many of the motorists are people who, as a result of inbreeding, only have a few thousand brain cells, and those are fully occupied rolling fags and tuning to Radio Dickhead. One night I had two near-death encounters (even with five lights on the back of my bike**) and I gave up cycling until BST.
** As a letter to The Times pointed out last week, many drivers are unable to see a bike when it's lit up like a Christmas tree, but they have no trouble spotting lots of cyclists without lights.
Re: Re: Eventually ...
I've always been in favour of year-round UTC (or GMT). But the way you describe adjusting the working day makes it sound like a tremendous hassle.
How many people really need to align their working day with the hours of daylight these days? Those who really have to, I suspect, do what they've always done: start earlier or later and finish earlier or later. For the rest of us, who spend the day in artificial light regardless of outside conditions, there's no point in the change.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Simple solution
WTF indeed! I've re-read John Robson's post several times in an attempt to guess what prompted the downvotes. Sometimes I wonder whether I'm reading El Reg or the Daily Fail.
There was never any comparable complaint of inaccuracy in the days when motorists used maps to navigate. And maps were liable to be much more out-of-date.
Possibly the mental effort of map-reading was too much for the idiots who now blindly follow satnavs, so they never went anywhere.
It might be nice to have nested replies, so we can tell the difference between a reply and a reply to a reply.
I suppose that's what "Re: Re: Re:..." is for.
Not really interested in SMEs at all
"Opensource software is not three guys in a shed anymore." That sounds like an SME to me. Presumably the Government is really interested in Open Source now that you can get it from the usual multinational megacorps.
What the customers of Megacorp don't realise is that the three guys in the shed are probably really bright people who know everything there is to know about their product. Megacorp, on the other hand, delegates your support request to one of their offshore drones.
"Gun laws in the US may arguably be less than sensible, but this doesn't, per se, make anyone who owns a gun a nut."
No, but shooting a laptop does.
And using a lethal weapon to express annoyance with a family member does.
And posting your ill-judged demonstration on Facebook for the world to see does.
It sounds like the daughter thoroughly deserved to lose her laptop, but from this side of the Atlantic the father's response says "Redneck".
Count me in
I've got to contribute to this, as my Mum worked at Bletchley Park during the war.
Sadly, by the time it was permissible to tell us about it, she couldn't really remember much of it. It didn't sound like it involved Colossus. Even if it did, I don't suppose a 21-year-old former Classics student would have made a big technical contribution.
Just what is the problem so many people have with SQL and relational concepts in general?
SQL is a small, simple language. It's not without a few ugly features, but it's easy to learn, clearly defined and consistent. Relational databases are simple enough that Edgar Codd could define one in 12 rules. (Simple, that is, from the perspective of the schema designer and application developer - DB administration is something else.)
But numerous apparently intelligent developers seem to fear these things as children fear to go in the dark. I'm forever hearing bleats of "do we really have to have a primary key?", as if the cost of the key was being deducted from their salary. Time and again I start work with a database and find that the schema was created by people who couldn't see the point of foreign keys, so the tables are full of junk values. And don't get me started on normalization.
This stuff is all so difficult that we have to re-invent the wheel, only this time we'll make it elliptical.
Not for the first time, I wonder who are the people whose time is no precious that they have to be able to pay by waving a card or a phone. Perhaps I'm a Luddite, maybe I'm stingy, but I prefer to know when I'm paying money out.
NFC payments look suspiciously like technology push to me - a solution in search of a problem.
To judge from my experience "elaboration" is a boring phase that comes between specification and development (I expect these two had special polysyllabic names, too, but I couldn't stay awake long enough to find out).
The idea was to turn a statement of requirements into something that could be built and, more important, tested. Quite a few requirements would be thrown out because they were non-testable and therefore vaporous.
"Facilitation" of course is the same as making something easier, except that it costs a lot more.
A bit harsh
Many of these IE6-only applications are probably legacy systems that were written at a time when IE6 dominated the market. It was only when standards-compliant browsers were more widespread that it really became clear that applications written for IE6 were not portable.
I doubt that there are many cowboy developers who create bad or non-portable code with an eye to future support work. All the developers I know dislike support work, hate supporting old code, and utterly detest working on code designed for an obsolete platform.
'Development costs time and money, so to recoup that they need to "pander" to the most common platforms to see a reasonable ROI'.
How are they going to get a return on investment from something they give away for nothing?
The development costs come from taxpayers, so it's not unreasonable to expect that any taxpayer with internet access will be able to see the benefit.
"Internet search engines that operate in the UK"
Clear evidence that they don't get this internet thing.
Who knows where a search engine "operates"? It might or might not have web servers in the UK. They might be handling requests themselves or proxying for app engines elsewhere. The underlying databases are distributed replicas of a dataset that's probably been created by numerous little computers in lots of locations.**
If your search engine really is located in the UK and it stops giving you the results you want, you'll just switch to a different, possibly offshore, one.
** I stand ready to be corrected by somebody who actually knows about search engines.
Well, everywhere I've worked over the past 20 years has had developers building and testing on Windows and deploying to Unix or Linux. Why don't the developers get with the zeitgeist and work on Linux? They don't have a choice. Their workstations are usually corporate standard builds, same as everybody else has, with a bit more memory and local admin privilege if they're lucky. (Unless they're contract developers, in which case their workstations came out of a skip. Me? Bitter?)
The IT infrastructure people in all but the smallest or most feckless companies have expended immense efforts on taming Windows workstation deployment. I don't suppose they'll want to start again just because "cool guys develop on Linux".
The usual reason why convicted terrorists, mad Mullahs and the like can't be sent packing as they should be is that is a risk they will be tortured or judicially killed if returned to their country of origin.
The USA, as we all know, would never condone torture or judicial execution. Oh, wait....
All the WiFi routers I've ever seen have in common the fact that they need to be connected to a wired network. So does this mean that Mr Cool with his WiFi cufflinks is tethered to the wall by a length of CAT5? Does he run it up his trouser leg for neatness?
I guess a wireless router doesn't actually have to be connected to a wired network. The function of a router as I understand it is to join two or more subnets, so this could just be a way of joining two wireless subnets. Is this a sufficiently common requirement to justify carrying the solution around on your person?
Stick to what you know
"A group of scientists from Berkeley has used..."
Does anything about the first character of this extract strike you? In case you're too thick to count up to one, I refer to the indefinite article "A". It's a while since I had to learn English, but at the time "A" was used with singular nouns, such as, er, "group". The third person singular present indicative of "to have" is "has".
But carry on making your verbs agree with the nearest noun, rather than the subject, if you like. Just don't bore us with your ignorance.
If this proposal is adopted, then the prime meridian will drift (very) slowly towards Paris, where the French wanted it to be in the first place.
Revenge, as they say, is a dish best eaten cold.
It's striking how many non-technical users are addicted to removable media. Their tiny brains believe data is safer when it's stored on something they can see and hold (and lose). I once worked with a department that copied all its documents on to floppy disks and locked them in a filing cabinet - so much safer than a Vax disk in a secure machine room that was backed-up every night.
The answer is to make all removable drives (including USB ports) on desktop workstations read-only. People who want to copy sensitive information would then have to explain exactly why they need to carry it around with them. Of course, that won't stop them sending it by email.
The problem with cows is, apparently, not farting but burping.
The benefits of less meat consumption are, I think, fewer ruminants burping out methane and less manure emitting methane.
Your assertion that "all animals fart" assumes that the vegetation-to-methane cycle would remain the same without cattle farming. I'm not sure this is true. Meat production is a fairly inefficient way of turning vegetation into food, so the farmed acreage would probably be smaller if we all ate less meat. If it's not farmed then the land will revert to grassland or forest, neither of which produces much methane. And despite the bean jokes, humans on a vegetarian diet produce a lot less methane than the cattle required to feed them.
"art" for art's sake?
"Yet even the Æsthetes, that art the disciples which loveth the Jesus phone the most, were discontent."
"art" is the old second person singular of the verb "to be", as in "thou art". "loveth" is third person singular. Neither agrees with a plural subject such as "Æsthetes" and "disciples".
I revere Verity Stob this side idolatry, but a syntax error is a syntax error, as even the authors of the King James Bible knew.
Half of the population are more stupid than the average person.
It rather depends on whether your average is the mean, mode or median. Bear in mind that almost all the population have more than the mean number of legs. Stupidity is probably a more symmetric distribution, though.
No cables, boxes or hassles
"TV as it was intended: no cables, boxes or hassles".
Er, I think I have one of these already, although I must admit there is a cable to the mains supply, and another to the aerial, now I come to think of it. I can't wait to upgrade to Ubuntu TV and get rid of these.
It appears, however, that Ubuntu TV is actually going to come over the Interwebs, via my mobile phone (500 Mb per month) or ISP (2 Mbit/s on a very good day). I can't help feeling that this will involve quite a lot of hassles (plus perhaps cables and boxes).
And then again...
For all you know, Richard 116 may be a Nobel prize winner who has appeared in major film roles and who is also intimate with the lady in question. He may not even have a computer in his bedroom. At least he doesn't post anonymously.
I can't help noticing a lot of thespian defensiveness in this forum. A group of people who choose to earn their living with skills that are, apparently, so commonplace that every vacancy is massively over-subscribed should, perhaps, learn to roll with the punches.
Fundamental building blocks of nature?
I could swear that I read somewhere that atoms are made up of smaller things.
Can't remember what they are. Neutrals? Electrodes? Quirks? Boatswains? Something like that.
I find the ads useful!
The presence of ads on a TV channel is a reliable indicator that the surrounding programme content is rubbish. No doubt the motto of the commercial channel programme-makers is "if they'll put up with the ads, they'll put up with anything".
This is especially true of ads for hair and skin care products. Even more especially the seasonal perfume ads that invariably feature mentally-challenged people who think glowering makes them look sexy.
From time to time there are potentially interesting factual programmes, but they are usually ruined by the way they are obliged to re-cap everything whenever they return from an ad break.
Is there are research that demonstrates that louder ads produce more sales?
To me, the ads that seem most likely to influence purchasing decisions are the least noisy; the subtle, amusing or entertaining ones.
If ever I inveigh against an annoying ad, some smart-arse will chip in with "Ah, but you remembered it, didn't you?". As if remembering that the Halifax campaign is clearly aimed at imbeciles would make me trust them with my money. (Nothing specifically against Halifax; I could list numerous other ads that induce rage.)
"Capgemini, which manages the Royal Mail website, is looking into the problems, the root cause of which remains unclear at the time of writing."
I think the root cause is clear from the first part of the sentence.
Speaking as a bumpkin
I can't say I'm surprised. BT never changes. "Rural" to BT seems to mean "living somewhere where you can see a tree".
The mention of Cumbria and the Highlands and Islands may create the impression that the problem is peculiar to remote locations**, and this can lead to a certain amount of sniping by city dwellers. Not so. Where I live, it takes 15 minutes by bike from my house to Cambridge Science Park, and nearly that long by Internet.
**These places deserve good connectivity as much as anyone else, but the physical problems may in some cases be greater.
If BAE Systems are handling this work, it presumably means they have extensive expertise working with oak, canvas, hemp, Stockholm tar etc. This is mildly surprising.
IANACB (I am not a charcoal-burner), so my knowledge of charcoal-burning is largely third-hand, but...
I think the energy used to convert the wood into charcoal actually comes from the wood itself - there's no external input. And I believe the process involves very slow combustion to drive off volatile components of the wood while retaining as much of its carbon as possible.
On the other hand, it could be that industrial charcoal-burning is done in huge gas-fired furnaces. I have to admit my information comes from Swallows and Amazons, c1955.
Why is it called My Passport Studio? Stupidest name since "Walkman".
It's not a studio, nor is it something that manipulates images or sounds int the way you might in a studio. I suppose its small size might be valuable if you live in a studio flat, but that seems pretty tenuous
And it's not a passport, either literally or metaphorically.
I've had the misfortune to help two GCSE candidates with their IT. In both cases the syllabus seemed to consist mostly of using MS Word to create brochures. It's as if the Economics syllabus taught nothing but typing, and the Physics syllabus was five years learning how to weigh and measure things.
The reference to "video games and visual effects talent" shows a typical politician's failure to grasp reality. It's just like Abominable Blair and his Army of Millennium Bug Busters all over again. Video games are important, and I'm full of admiration for the people who create them, but I don't think they're the main contribution that IT makes to the UK economy.
I think it's slightly more complicated than that.
We used to play it at the office in the evenings. After four or five hours play, I'd be utterly jumpy. Leaving the empty building, I'd press the lift button and flinch because I expected the wall to open up and disgorge a pack of monsters.
I always remember the room with a lethal spider-thing and a lethal robot-thing on a platform in the middle. The only way to deal with them seemed to be to run round the outside until they started shooting at each other.
"bulbs that fit in bayonet cap fittings" - if only it were that simple.
I have bulbs with BC, small BC, ES, small ES fittings.
I have tungsten incandescent, CFL, "efficient halogen", and I soon expect to have LED, too.
I have candle, golf-ball, tall thin tubes, twisty tubes, GU10s, G4s.
Unsurprisingly, when a bulb fails (which happens all the time, despite the extravagant promises on the boxes - has anybody ever claimed on a light bulb guarantee?) my huge collection of spares doesn't include the right combination of these attributes and I have to go out and buy a replacement.
So your ambition in life is just to survive, even if you have to live under a fridge and eat crap? You don't sound very ambitious.
I think you're confusing the impressive record of the cockroach species with that of an individual cockroach.
So sound, unexceptionable advice like this and the previous article result in flaming. I'd be sad about that, were it not for the fact that I might be competing for jobs with the people who think it's unreasonable.
Just one mystery. The author "worked for >25 years as a programmer" and is now a head-hunter? Doesn't head-hunting involve interacting with people?
Were the fillets raw or cooked?
Breast, thigh or (perish the thought) wing fillets?
Don't they tend to emit a smell of rotten meat after a fairly short time?