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* Posts by Kubla Cant

1184 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Thousands rally behind teen girl cuffed, expelled in harmless 'explosion'

Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Re: ah, schoolday 'pranks'

Not to mention:

- Sugar and weedkiller, but not in small tins. The class pyromaniac favoured lengths of bicycle frame with the ends beaten over.

- Potassium permanganate and glycerine, inside an empty desk. Began to burn about halfway through the lesson.

- Acetylene from calcium carbide dropped into a bottomless oil can standing in water, then ignited through the hole in the top. Amazingly, in the 1960s bike shops still stocked calcium carbide for people to use in cycle lamps.

- Iodine and ammonia. Anywhere.

It sounds like Bash Street, but this was a grammar school in what was, according to New Society, the most middle-class town in Britain.

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Linux kernel 3.9 lands

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

@1Rafayal

MS has some advantages, they make a product and let people know all about it and offer help on how to use it.

Microsoft offers help on how to use Windows? How? Where? I don't actually want help myself, but I'd love to be able to redirect friends and family to some helpful Microsoft person.

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CLIMATE CHANGE forces women into PROSTITUTION - US politicians

Kubla Cant
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Re: @deshepherd Gender sensitive framework

I suppose you can see why the effect of a 20mph limit on prostitutes might be important, too.

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Is the IT industry short on Cobolers? This could be your lucky day

Kubla Cant
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Terminator

CV generator

So agents and employers rely on keyword search. Who can blame them, given that a day spent reading CVs is probably a day we'd all prefer to miss?

I see a requirement emerging here. I'm seriously thinking of writing a CV generator. I'll paste in the keywords from the job listing, and it will construct a CV from paragraphs that emphasise my experience with these skills, drawn from a database of everything I've ever done. I already do this manually in covering letters, which I suspect nobody ever reads.

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Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Cobol

From the very beginning of my coding career I kept meaning to learn COBOL, but I always found myself falling asleep somewhere between the words "IDENTIFICATION DIVISION." and "ENVIRONMENT DIVISION.".

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Kubla Cant
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Dibol anyone? Powerhouse?

Interesting and useful article. Maybe it's time to reinstate some fossil skills on my CV. Then again, if I do that I might have to use them, and in most cases I was glad to leave them behind.

The worst part of programming is trying to understand old code written by a somebody for whom a good program is one that makes it to the end statement (which is usually in the same module as the start, 25,000 lines later). Any fossil job is going to involve a lot of that, and until the wolf comes scratching at my door I'd rather not.

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Continued lack of women in tech bemoaned by ex-techie lady MP

Kubla Cant
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Re: ICT is not attractive to women

@Faye B:

Only when young girls believe that IT will be welcoming, exciting and socially enhancing will it become as attractive as other professions and encourage them to pursue a career in that direction.

It's a job, not a f***ing coffee morning! You're there to get stuff done, not swan around interacting and socialising and enhancing.

greasy overall profession

In 30 years in IT, the only people I've seen in greasy overalls have generally been the cleaners.

I work in an office that is approximately 90% male and I can go an entire day without speaking to any of them.

Maybe if you had anything intelligent to say you'd get more interaction.

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Kubla Cant
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Joke

So why is it acceptable to make such a claim about men?

Because that's what women do, bless them.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Automatic tills?

Nothing really wrong with self-service checkouts, except that they're as yet imperfect. Half of them claim to let you use your own bags but then make you hang around for verification if the bags aren't gossamer-light. And it's annoying to have to hang around for age verification because your shopping includes wine. The worst ones are in B&Q. They're voiced by a ratty woman who nags you if you pause for more than ten seconds between items.

But in what sense is this technology "imposed on us aggressively"? These checkouts are rarely more than 25% of the checkouts. I use them because they're fast, but if the former shadow minister for innovation doesn't like them she could always queue up at a manual checkout.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Woman who gives up,

If she was a successful engineer, why on earth would she want to become a politician?

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Science of the lambs: Boffins grow GLOW-IN-THE-DARK sheep

Kubla Cant
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Re: What's next?

Beware of "that most dangerous of animals, a clever sheep"*.

*Monty Python

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Master Beats: Why doesn't audio quality matter these days?

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: We lack analogue greatness

@Eadon "an Office suit or browser without menu/toolbars"

Your suit has a browser, a menu and toolbars? Is it a pinstripe or tweed suit? What sort of GUI do your casual clothes have?

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Kubla Cant
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Megaphone

The listeners are the problem

An audio system is the result of engineer's best effort to reproduce sound with minimal distortion. With the bass and treble controls centred you should hear something as close to the original as he could get it for the price.

So what do most listeners do? They turn the bass control to number 11. When that makes everything sound boomy, they turn the treble up to 11, too. The result is generally even more distortion as a result of overloading the power amplifier.

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Mosaic turns 20: Let's fire up the old girl, show her the web today

Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: NOW I feel old...

A previous post referred to "old DEC Alphas". I can remember working on Vaxes when the Alpha was a new thing. Actually, I think I can remember working on PDP/11s when the Vax was new.

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Climate-cooling effect 'stronger than volcanoes' is looking solid

Kubla Cant
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Coat

The difference between weather and climate

When the weather becomes warmer or windier or less predictable, it indicates that the climate is heating up.

By contrast, when the weather gets colder or calmer or more predictable, it's a purely local phenomenon of no significance.

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Bogus gov online test tells people on dole they're just SO employable

Kubla Cant
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Re: Essex

I though this test was on the Internet. Does Essex have its own Intranet?

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Bill Gates offends Koreans after sticking hand down trousers

Kubla Cant
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Re: Maybe

@NomNomNom what would YOU say if Bill Gates walked up to the queen of England, slapped her round the face and said FUCK YOU

Don't be stupid. The problem in Korea was an accidental infringement of a local cultural convention. There are plenty of countries where greeting somebody with your hand in your pocket isn't a problem, but I don't suppose you can instance a single one where slapping somebody's face and saying "fuck you" isn't deliberately offensive.

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Black-eyed Pies reel from BeagleBoard's $45 Linux micro blow

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: And in the Microsoft World

"Blackberry PI"

who?

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Red Hat renames JBoss application server as WildFly

Kubla Cant
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JBoss currantly** encourages developers to use frameworks other than Java EE, such as Spring, and non-Java languages that run on the JVM, such as Clojure and Scala.

** I assume they must have a good raisin for this.

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Dark matter researchers think they've got a signal

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Fahrenheit?

"Google can't convert very lower Farenheit[sic] temperatures to Kelvin."

Are we to believe that boffins in the impressive-sounding Super Cryogenic Dark Matter Search measure temperatures in Fahrenheit, so you have to use Google to convert them?

What else? Dimensions in yards? Volume in bushels? Weight in grains? Time in some insanely old-fashioned units like, er, seconds?

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Amazon's flash-backed database gets EVEN FASTER

Kubla Cant
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Pint

Flash-backed

When I saw the expression "flash-backed database", I couldn't help visualising a massive datacentre full of flash pen drives connected to USB sockets. What's more I imagined them all different, like the collection of pen drives in my desk drawer, from slick modern 5Gb units to crappy old 128Mb things. Maybe they even have a few of the novelty pen drives.

It's Friday afternoon and I need a beer.

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The fast-growing energy source set to replace oil: Yes, it's COAL

Kubla Cant
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Re: Renewable Energy

@h3 If we built astronomically large amounts of nuclear we could sell the energy really cheap

This is the second post here that makes the mistake of assuming nuclear energy is cheap because the direct unit cost is low. Nuclear power is capital-intensive. Most of the unit cost of output is a share of the cost of building and decommissioning the power station.

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Game designer spills beans on chubby-fancying chap with his stolen Mac

Kubla Cant
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Re: Ah the incompetence of the police.

@Neil B: My experience has been similar except for the bit where they found your bike.

When the Police haven't recovered anything, and haven't even investigated, it's exceptionally annoying that there are funds to make sure a "victim support" drone comes round to talk over the psychological effects of having your house broken into.

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British bookworms deem Amazon 'evil'

Kubla Cant
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Re: Re: Re "famous Neil Gaiman"

I think the purpose of a sentence like "Who the fuck is X?" is less to elicit information than to emphasise the obscurity of X. Googling X won't help achieve that.

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Gov.uk named THE BEST THING Britain has made all year

Kubla Cant
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FAIL

Rubbish

I've been an IT professional for about 30 years, so I flatter myself that I can find my way around a web site.

The first time I used the HMRC site to file a VAT return it took about 20 minutes for me to find the correct page. Every quarter I improve a bit; although three months is enough time to forget the details, I've got it down to 10 minutes.

Not for the first time, it seems the Design Museum values appearance way above function.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: For a safer, faster, better experience online you should upgrade your browser.

Why not code for the normal 99%? if you disabled javascript and cookies thats your problem

Because in some cases the use of these sites is compulsory. Paper VAT returns, for example, are no longer accepted.

If they want to make it compulsory, it should be compatible with whatever browser my operating system supports. In some cases that might be a character-based browser such as Lynx.

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Londoners in mass test of telly tech savvy as 4G filters mailed out

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: What about flats

... or the Ariel who can put a girdle round about the earth in forty minutes?

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Are biofuels Europe's sh*ttiest idea ever?

Kubla Cant
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Facepalm

Re: to answer the headline question

@dave 93 Left to market forces there would be no alternatives until the fossil fuels started to run out

I think what you mean is this. Left to market forces nobody would waste money and effort on alternatives until the fossil fuels started to run out and the resulting rise in price made the alternative viable.

There isn't going to be one day when the last oil trickles out of the last well and "the market" says "Oops! We should have developed an alternative". The reserves of fossil fuels are actually quite large, but the cost of extraction of much of it means that it's not currently worth it. As more and more expensive-to-extract fossil fuels come into use, so it becomes more worthwhile to develop alternatives.

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Move over, Mythbusters: Was Archimedes an ancient STEVE JOBS?

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Punic? This war is MASSIVE

Punic has nothing to do with size, it's derived from Poeni, the Latin name for the Carthaginians. They were called Poeni because it was thought that they originated from Phoenicia.

Yes, I know it's a pun, and I can see the joke (though not actually laugh at it). But opportunities to display knowledge of this sort are few and far between.

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Cutting CO2 too difficult? Try these 4 simple tricks instead

Kubla Cant
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Curious

From time to time, people complain that global warming doesn't seem to be making the weather in Britain any better, and that it recently seems to have been getting worse. The more flippant have been heard to say that we could do with some warmer weather. The rebuttal to this is always along the lines of "Don't be stupid: global warming doesn't mean the weather where you are gets warmer".

But when people produce anecdotes about localised phenomena that seem to indicate the climate is getting warmer - palm trees in Pensacola etc - it's accepted as yet more proof that AGW is real.

Not disagreeing. I just think it's curious.

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Alibaba comes again with Android-unfriendly mobile OS

Kubla Cant
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Open source

because AMOS uses “the Android runtime, framework and tools” but is not technically compatible with Android, Alibaba shouldn’t be allowed to partner with Open Handset Alliance members

Nice to see how enthusiastically Google supports the open-source philosophy.

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Smart metering will disrupt weather forecasts, warns Met Office

Kubla Cant
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Re: @JetSetJim Alternative

@Chris 3: "It's a fairly well tested theory that if people become aware of their power consumption they tend to reduce it."

Fairly well tested and disproved, AFAIK.

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Ban drones taking snaps of homes, rages Google boss... That's HIS job, right?

Kubla Cant
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Same old same-old

The only difference between spying on your neighbours with a drone and doing it by attaching a camera to a long stick or climbing a tree or using a telephoto lens or a hole in the party wall is that it's marginally more convenient. The laws that apply to the current peeping Tom technologies will still apply. The same applies to the nuisance and safety risk that you can cause with a drone.

Believing that readily-available drones change things is a classic example of technology fixation.

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Antarctic ice sheet melt 'not that unusual', latest ice core shows

Kubla Cant
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Re: To be fair...

Indeed, but this last happened as recently as the 1830s, and I don't think sea levels were 40ft higher then.

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I salute Lady THATCHER - Shoreditch's SILICON GODMOTHER

Kubla Cant
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Re: 51% to 49% is hardly a sweeping victory

@AC: "It's actually almost the most divisive you can possibly be"

Yes, she splits the Guardian readership right down the middle. But they hardly represent the median of the political spectrum, do they?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Seen elsewhere

All this week I've been wondering how many of the vocal anti-Thatcherites who've popped up are actually old enough to know what pre-Thatcher Britain was like. It was crappy, and getting crappier every year. But don't let that mute your right-on rhetoric - maybe crappy is what you like.

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'You can keep it' - Brit's nicked laptop turns up on Iranians' sofa

Kubla Cant
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Re: What about Iran's internet firewall?

Does this apply to fluffy Persian cats?

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Handwriting beats PowerPoint's teaching power says MIT boffin

Kubla Cant
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Handwriting

After many years sitting at a keyboard typing code, my handwriting has deteriorated to the point of illegibility. Most of the vowels are implied, and many of the consonants identical. It's just as well I'm not a lecturer.

What's more, my hand starts to ache after about half a page. I hate those interviews where you have to complete a handwritten test against the clock.

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Google U-turn DID preempt ICANN's block on corporate gTLD-snatchers

Kubla Cant
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Generic namespaces

.blog is a generic namespace based on a fairly recent neology, and I don't suppose the .cloud domain will be mainly used by meteorologists. Five years ago neither was a generic term, and in ten years time both usages may be quaint.

The point I'm trying to make is that it's impossible to pin language down. Tomorrow's generic terms are either perfectly normal words or meaningless letter sequences today.

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French spies do a Barbara Streisand over secret nuke radio base

Kubla Cant
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Re: This morning's idle thoughts

C'est à dire singes capitulards fromageophages, n'est ce pas?

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Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

Reading between the lines

The volunteer ... quickly agreed to their demands even though he did not write the original entry.

Whereupon the guys at the Direction Centrale du Renseignement Intérieur agreed to remove the electrodes.

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Gates and Allen reshoot historic 1981 Microsoft photo

Kubla Cant
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Re: Entropy is winning...

I used to think Cisco Systems was an imaginative company name referencing The Cisco Kid*, but then a friend told me he'd been there, and it was just the place where the company was based. Disappointing, but I should have realised that you get called "The X Kid" because X is the place you come from.

*For our younger readers, The Cisco Kid was a TV cowboy in the 1950s. Described in the opening credits as "O Henry's Robin Hood of the old west", he was in fact amazingly camp. He wore a skin-tight black (on b/w TV) outfit with sparkly arabesques all over the front. Every week he would jump off a rock on to a bandit as he rode past on his horse. Every episode ended with the Kid and his stereotype Mexican sidekick laughing like drains at nothing in particular: "Oh Cisco!", "Oh Pancho!", "Ha ha ha ha...".

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GPs blow whistle to watchdog on patient record privacy threat

Kubla Cant
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Require and request

"the Health and Social Care Information Centre has the power ... ‘to require and request provision of information’"

I have the power to require and request £10M, but I don't seem to be getting it. Check out Henry IV part 1:

Glendower I can call spirits from the vasty deep.

Hotspur Why, so can I, or so can any man; But will they come when you do call for them?

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Publishing ANYTHING on .uk? From now, Big Library gets copies

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Beano

Although these libraries are entitled to receive and keep a copy of all copyright publications, I don't think they necessarily do so. I seem to recall that the Bodleian failed to produce back numbers of the Beano to help while away the long hours that should have been spent writing essays.

In the case of web content, the fact that a large and increasing proportion is produced dynamically must make things difficult. For many sites there's no such thing as a definitive copy, so there's nothing to keep.

And can anybody explain why an alien university such as Trinity College Dublin should benefit from the free handout of books?

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Card skimmers targeting more than ATMs, says EU

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

ATMs not the problem

Most of the posts here have homed in on banks and ATMs. The banks may be bastards and ATMs less secure than they pretend to be, but I don't think these are the main source of concern. ATMs are mostly big and expensive, and the fact that they dispense real cash means they're relatively well maintained.

Car park ticket machines, for example, are a different kettle of fish. Often unreliable or non-functioning, located in isolated places where they can be easily tampered with. The same applies to parking meters, which are so numerous that they are obviously built to lower standards than ATMs. But I'm sure I'm not the only one who's used a card when I'm rushing to catch a train and I haven't got the right change.

The surprising thing is that it's taken as long as it has for crooks to home in on these machines.

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Watchdog warns UK.gov not to create 'them and us' digital divide

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

Letters, phone calls and emails

Notoriously, most of the government departments that deal with the public have a huge backlog of unprocessed mail. Government online services sound like a way of cutting the backlog at a stroke.

If you phone then you get held in a queue, and when you give up you become part of a statistic. There's no evidence that you tried to make contact. The situation with emails is presumably worse. A million unanswered letters are a bit more noticeable than a million unanswered emails, and a lot more difficult to delete.

One advantage of snail mail is that you can have documentary evidence of delivery; failure to respond is therefore clearly the fault of the pen-pushers (presumably not pushing their p[ens as fast as they should).

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ASA says 'unlimited' broadband can have 'moderate' limits on it

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

ASA Dictionary

unlimited = slightly limited

illegal = mostly legal

unaccountable = accountable to somebody

useless = ASA

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Are the PCs all getting a bit old at your office? You're not alone

Kubla Cant
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Fallacy

Traditional computers maker were caught out by the shift in the market to tablets and other portable systems; in 2012 fondleslab shipments grew 78.4 per cent and smartmobes climbed 46.1 per cent.

I don't believe the (negative) correlation implies causation. Portable systems are filling a need that didn't really exist before they did. Desktop replacement cycles have extended because the processing requirements of the business applications that run on these machines have stopped leap-frogging machine resources. This isn't likely to change again.

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Blighty's revolutionary Cold War teashop computer - and Nigella Lawson

Kubla Cant
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"Starbucks, which sweats to ensure its coffee-like beverages taste exactly the same"

I presume it's the sweat that gives it its distinctive flavour.

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Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: 2/2d for a cup of tea at a Corner House in 1954???

Definitely - I'd guess less than a shilling.

And what does "2 shillings and 2 pennies or less than two quid today" mean? 2/2d was less than two quid in 1954, as well.

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