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* Posts by Kubla Cant

1209 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

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

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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Why UK slid £150m to tax-exempt phone-mast master Arqiva

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Tax exemption???

I thought the whole point of the rule of law, democracy etc, etc was that laws apply equally to everyone. But it seems that we're still in the 17th Century, where monopolies, subsidies and tax exemptions are handed out on an arbitrary basis by politicians.

Why hasn't Arqiva been broken up as a monopoly? They've invested in infrastructure, but it's not like mobile telephony is a socially valuable service that wouldn't be available without subsidy, is it?

It would be interesting to learn who else is tax-exempt.

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United Nations: 'Overpopulated Earth? Time to EAT BUGS'

Kubla Cant
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Feeding insects to cattle

What could possibly go wrong? It was fine when we fed sheep, etc*, to cattle, after all.

*etc: At the time of the BSE outbreak, I worked for a company that supplied (reputable) cattle feed ingredients as part of its business. It was known that some farmers were adding cement to their feed - presumably to stiffen up the dead sheep brains.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: bon apitite....

"apitite"?

"ice burg"?

If you want to be taken seriously, you should consider investing in a dictionary.

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Apple asked me for my BANK statements, says outraged reader

Kubla Cant
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Re: Apple are not the only ones

I too have one of the old A4-sheet driving licences. It's lived in my wallet since 1999, so it's in a pretty ragged state. I ought to charge wear and tear to anyone who asks to see it without good reason. My objective is to avoid the cost / time / hassle of getting a plastic one for as long as possible.

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Builder-in-a-hole outrage sparks Special Projects Bureau safety probe

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Re: Killjoy statistician Nazi here

European attitudes to all rules and regulations, including H&S, seem to be like this:

- For the Germans, any rule is a good rule. The more stringent and unreasonable, the better. Zu Befehl! I am only following orders, etc.

- For the Club Med countries, rules are suggestions that we might follow if it doesn't interfere in any way with our lifestyle.

- For the British, rules are things to worry about.

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John McAfee talks of sex, drugs, and bad coding

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

@Zmodem

lose

lose

LOSE

LOSE

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How smart does your desk phone need to be?

Kubla Cant
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Conferencing

The last office I worked in used desktop-sharing software (Bridgit and something else) that integrated nicely with the desktop phones. You could join a conference on the computer and get it to call your phone, whereupon it would show who was dialled-in and who was talking.

The audio quality was obviously too good, though, because most cofnerences were punctuated by the manager saying "Somebody's breathing into the phone - please mute it!".

Of course the handsets were covered in buttons with no discernible function, but that's the way handsets always are. How many home phones have buttons that seem to assume everybody has a PABX?

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Retro-tech fan seeks cash for Commodore 64 clones

Kubla Cant
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How?

able to connect to the internet via a local network, and use Micro SD cards for storage

I know nothing about the C64, but given its age I would be surprised to learn that it runs an operating system with either of these capabilities. I suppose it might be possible to emulate a cassette recorder with SD cards (the emulator will need to run very slowly and fail on a random basis). But is he planning to write his own network stack in Basic?

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10-day stubble: Men's 'socio-sexual attributes' at their best

Kubla Cant
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@Montreal Sam

Her response was "Go out and find one of these women and sleep with her then."

And did you?

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: @"nations that are run by sexually repressed religious nut bags."

@Drakkenson: Brush up your predicate logic.

"most nations that disapprove of facial hair are run by sexually repressed religious nut bags" does not imply "a particular nation (or even most nations) run by sexually repressed religious nut bags disapproves of facial hair".

∀a(MustShave(a) → RunByNuts(a))

is consistent with

∃a(RunByNuts(a) ∧¬ MustShave(a))

(Why can I paste these symbols into the message, but not enter them as HTML entities?)

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We've done it - we've gone and made LONG-LIFE BEER

Kubla Cant
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Pint

Re: I will never understand...

@The Grump: I take it from the way you spell "flavor" that you're a native of the country that specialises in flavourless beers, served so cold that any vestigial taste is undetectable.

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BMC successfully sells self

Kubla Cant
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BMC?

I have to say, their Morris Marina was rubbish.

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How did something so small and pink cause so much trouble?

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: Decisive action and commitment

@Phil W: "phasing out passports as they expire"

- so we'd only be able to travel to countries that don't require a passport?

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Forget choice: 50% of firms will demand you BYOD by 2017

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Meanwhile on planet Earth...

As a contractor I imagine I see the inside of more offices than many other people. What I see is people working at large desktop workstations with the biggest screens they can get. I'm looking at two wide screens, the person sitting next to me has three, and at my last place of work there were people with nine screens. You'd need a van to get the stuff home.

OK, let's leave aside these power users and look at low-paid clerical workers. At the moment they usually have a box under the table, a moderate-size screen, a keyboard and mouse. It's still a lot of kit to carry back and forth on the bus.

I guess the presumption of BYOD is that all this work will be taking place on portable devices. The accounts clerk will be using spreadsheets on her smartphone, and the secretaries will be hammering out letters on fondleslabs. Does Gartner have anything to say about the 90% drop in productivity that will result?

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Tiny fly-inspired RoboBee takes flight at Harvard

Kubla Cant
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Re:

I bet it can't walk on the ceiling, either.

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Japan's XP migration solution: Remove network cable

Kubla Cant
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FAIL

Re: Re: No network = No Work

I'm wrong. Just re-read and seen that the network ports are taped up.

So it's back to sneakernet.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: No network = No Work

@keithpeter No Internet != no network

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Yet another Cabinet-level ID card farce

Kubla Cant
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Alert

Here comes Godwin

One problem is that identity documents are so strongly associated with films of Anton Diffring in a long black leather overcoat shouting "Ausweis! Schnell!".

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Star Trek: The original computer game

Kubla Cant
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Alien

The original computer game?

Not even near. When I read that part of the ancestry of Star Trek was a game called Space Wars, it reminded me that I'd read about an earlier game with a similar name. It seems that Spacewar! is no relation to Star Trek, but it's much, much earlier.

According to a "reliable source", Spacewar! was written in 1962, on a PDP-1 (I never knew there was such a computer, though it makes sense that DEC didn't start from number 8. Were there ever PDPs 2-7?)

While I'm writing, is "numberical" a word you made up?

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UK.gov's love affair with ID cards: Curse or farce?

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

The big difference is this

All the identifying documents I have at the moment are things that enable me to prove who I am, that I can drive, that I have a line of credit, that I shop at Tesco, that anyone who messes with me is going to hear from Her Britannic Majesty's Secretary of State, etc. I have them because I think the loss of anonymity is worth the benefit (or in the case of Tesco, I don't because I don't).

The ID card, on the other hand, was going to be something we were all required by law to own and to carry.

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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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Thumb Down

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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Thumb Down

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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