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* Posts by Kubla Cant

1209 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

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

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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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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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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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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Kubla Cant
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Re: Er...

I once worked near Westbourne Grove, London, where there was a shop that sold nothing but thermionic valves. As this was in the early 1980s, one couldn't but think their business model had reached the end of the line. Shortly afterwards, the shop was destroyed by fire. I suppose this might have been caused by overheating valves, but then again...

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Torygraph and Currant Bun stand by to repel freeloaders

Kubla Cant
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Re: fine.

The book reviews are OK.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: iPad app

Can somebody explain why you need a special application to read what is, at the end of the day, a collection of HTML pages?

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This post has been deleted by a moderator

CERN re-opens 'Animal Shelter for Computer Mice'

Kubla Cant
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Re: Re: cute

Nah, they'd have found the Higgs Boson and all that stuff months ago with Excel macros. Years ago if they'd used Powerpoint too.

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Lightspeed variable say intellectuels français

Kubla Cant
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Re: "no shit, Sherlock"

"Space is not really a vacuum, therefore why should the speed of light in space be the speed of light in a vacuum?"

I think what they're saying is only indirectly related to with the speed of light in space. It sounds like the theoretical speed of light in a vacuum is different from the actual speed of light in vacuum, even assuming that the vacuum is "perfect". This is a bit different from "space actually contains stuff".

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Dongle smut Twitstorm claims second scalp

Kubla Cant
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Python

I've never used Python, but I'm starting to wonder if there's something in the language that stirs up wild emotion. A couple of weeks ago there was a news item about Python users deploying death threats and DDOS in response to a perceived misuse of the name. Now we have spitting dummies and sackings caused by ambiguously-named peripherals.

I bet you'd never see this sort of behaviour from COBOL users.

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The gaming habits of Reg readers revealed

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Where does addiction to Freecell fit in to this?

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Furious Stephen Fry blasts 'evil' Reg and 'TW*T' Orlowski

Kubla Cant
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"a stupid person's idea of an intelligent person"

This delightfully barbed phrase seems to have been coined by Julie Burchill, everybody's idea of a conceited media cow. Sadly, that's not as funny.

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Movie, TV ads annoying? You ain't seen nothin' yet

Kubla Cant
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Re: How advertising is paid for.

I'm not siding with the big, bad admen here, but it's not clear whether things cost more or less as a result of advertising.

Proponents of advertising would claim that it creates more efficient markets and allows economies of scale. The problem is that it's hard to find comparable markets with no advertising. The Communist economies of the 20th century come close, but they suffered from so many other structural defects.

What's almost certain is that it's nearly impossible for a producer to expand beyond a small local market without advertsing. And you don't have to be Adam Smith to recognise that if you buy, say breakfast cereal, from a two-man concern that just supplies your village, you're going to pay a lot more for it. And you're going to have to do without a lot of other products that can't be manufactured at all on a small scale.

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Review: Renault Zoe electric car

Kubla Cant
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Re: Running costs.

Paradoxically, cycling to work is only a realistic option for urban dwellers. For 20 years I cycled 18 miles a day in central London. People used to say "You're brave" (this was in the days when you could ride from Fulham to the City without seeing another cyclist).

When I moved to the country, I imagined myself spinning to work along sun-dappled lanes, like somebody in a TV ad. Alas, no. First of all, the lanes are only sun-dappled in summer. In winter, they're pitch dark morning and evening, and cyclists are unlikely to live long enough to see the next summer. The other problem is that the distance to work was 25 miles. Even if I was fit enough for a daily 50-mile round trip, I can't really afford to spend that amount of my day travelling.

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Stephen Fry explains… Alan Turing's amazing computer

Kubla Cant
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Re: A little historical context

Not quite. Apparently nobody bothered about Turing's sexual orientation when he was at Bletchley Park and had access to very secret material. His notorious absent-mindedness would have been more of a threat.

In Manchester, where he is unlikely to have been working on classified material, nobody bothered until he reported one of the random people to the police for involvement in theft from his home.

There's also a strong body of opinion that Turing's death was an accident. He left no note, and people who knew him at Manchester reported that his mood was far from suicidal. One of them pointed out that he bought several new pairs of socks the day before (an observation that is probably less trivial when you consider the clothes rationing of the time).

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Boffin road trip! The Reg presents Geek's Guide to Britain

Kubla Cant
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Re: Come on....

And almost every sport.

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Refusal to swallow scuppers woman's tadpole-smuggling plan

Kubla Cant
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Smuggling tadpoles

Why?

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Young model ruthlessly fingers upskirt iPad petshop pervert

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Her Mutt

her mutt (a "Cavalier King Charles Spaniel"...)

As far as I know, "mutt" is the American equivalent of "mongrel", which it can't have been if it was a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Journalists on the British side of the Atlantic seem increasingly to regard "mutt" as a humorous word for "dog". Even if I'm wrong about the word's true meaning, the forced jocularity is utterly toe-curling. The same is true of "pooch".

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Android in cars

Kubla Cant
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Android in cars

Why don't car manufacturers use Android devices in cars?**

These days most cars have a sort-of-computer in the dashboard. Compared with a cheap smartphone or tablet, the UI is crap and the range of applications dismal. It's like the era when every computer came with a proprietary operating system.

Obviously it would be desirable to separate the Android system from the system that controls critical functions in the vehicle. This in itself would be no bad thing: a year or so ago, El Reg referenced a piece of work where researchers were easily able to take remote control of the brakes and accelerator in a car, largely because the critical systems co-exist with things like the entertainment system.

**Maybe they do, and I haven't heard.

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The Lynx effect: The story of Camputers' mighty micro

Kubla Cant
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CP/M

From the story it sounds like Camputers made a mistake trying to target the home and business markets with derivatives of the same machine.

There were plenty of CP/M business computers available in the early 80s, and most of them could comfortably run the operating system and a business application* in 64k. Presumably the Lynx needed 128k to run CP/M because of its ROM Basic. The Osborne 1 that I bought around that time came with two Basics that loaded from disk, one of them compiled.

And why did they suffer problems finding a disk operating system? It didn't seem to be a problem for any of the other CP/M manufacturers. The whole point of CP/M was to simplify this.

* For example, WordStar, SuperCalc, DBase II. The article mentions the hubristically-named Perfect suite of applications, which I used on a 16-bit MS-DOS machine around this time, and found to be buggy junk.

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Hadoop distie MapR trousers another $30m to take on big data rivals

Kubla Cant
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Hadoop distie MapR trousers

I take it that Hadoop distie MapR trousers are the jeans with tight legs. low crotch and pants visible above the waistline that can be seen on Beau Brummell's successors.

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Is UK web speech regulated? No.10: Er. We’ll get back to you

Kubla Cant
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Pint

Off topic

In a single day we get a long and fairly erudite article about 3D printing, and a commentard quoting Cicero.

Brilliant stuff!

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Kubla Cant
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Facepalm

What does "news-related" mean?

i. news or information about current affairs;

ii. opinion about matters relating to the news or current affairs; or

iii. gossip about celebrities, other public figures or other persons in the news.

I think we all understood the "related" part. What we need to know is what constitutes "news". This fatuous set of definitions skates over that bit.

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Holly(oaks) talking head is FUTURE of face messaging, claims prof

Kubla Cant
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Frustration

a user could, for example, text the message 'I’m going to be late' and ask it to set the emotion to 'frustrated'

So much simpler than texting the message "I'm frustrated because I’m going to be late", or "I’m going to be late. How frustrating!"**. Or even, perish the thought, phoning and sounding frustrated.

Also, I'm a bit concerned that the face might express, say, sexual frustration, rather than mild annoyance at being late.

** OK, Shakespeare, that's enough emoting.

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Drilling into 3D printing: Gimmick, revolution or spooks' nightmare?

Kubla Cant
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Pirate

Spooks' nightmare

How odd that a community of the (presumably American) military and security establishment should feel so much concern about people printing their own firearms.

In Britain, and no doubt in some other countries, it's just about arguable that the difficulty of obtaining firearms restricts their use in crime. Even here, it's probably mostly unpremeditated or loony crime that's prevented. Professional criminals and terrorists can usually get all the guns they need.

But it's hard to imagine why anyone in the USA would go to the trouble and expense of printing a gun when they seem to be pretty freely available for sale.

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Lenovo: Windows 8 is so good, everyone wants Windows 7

Kubla Cant
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Re: Trying to find Windows 7 laptops for consumers is hard work

A fortnight ago I bought a medium-spec Windows 7 laptop through Amazon (the brand was Lenovo). But maybe you're looking for a different type of machine.

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New nuke could POWER WORLD UNTIL 2083

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Re: "the less someone knows about something the more they underestimate its difficulty."

I may not know much about nuclear power / rocket science / brain surgery / anything at all, actually, but I know what I like.

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Touch screens and greasy mitts: All you need is glove

Kubla Cant
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Oops!

"imagine touching a photo of a brick on an iPad and feeling the brick’s rough surface"

Imagine touching a photo of a high-tension power line and bursting into flames.

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