* Posts by Kubla Cant

1555 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

WINGED VELOCIRAPTOR 'from HELL': Closest thing ever to a real DRAGON?

Kubla Cant
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Re: Hang on.. 6 limbs?

No, four limbs. Two large legs at the back, and two rather puny forelimbs. The wings are part of the forelimbs (or vice versa). It's clearer on the picture of the fossil.

This does raise the question of what use are wings that don't enable you to fly, I've tended to assume that modern flightless birds have wings because they've inherited them. This creature and its kin seem to have developed wings as a sort of decorative feature on the forelimbs. The implication is that wings (and feathers, too) evolved in response to some non-flight-related selection pressure and then turned out to be useful for flying.

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Brit school software biz unchains lawyers after crappy security exposed

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Some people are very heavily invested and don't want to loose their shirts.

If they keep their shirts tucked into their belts, they won't be loose.

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Europe a step closer to keeping records on all passengers flying in and out of the Continent

Kubla Cant
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Charlie Hebdo

So this measure is to be implemented in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders, and a previous one in response to 7/7.

Is there any evidence at all that the Charlie Hebdo attack could have been prevented by this sort of information gathering? The 7/7 bombers came from places like Leeds and travelled by train, so you'd need to record what kind of crisps they bought from the snack trolley.

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Horrifying MOCK BACON ABOMINATION grown in BUBBLING VATS as ALGAE

Kubla Cant
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Re: Snake

This farm shop sells frozen "exotics" in its butchers. I'm pretty sure I've seen snake and alligator, but I haven't tried either. Although they do keep Nile crocodiles on the farm, and the nearby Raptor Centre has pythons, I don't know if all or any of the exotic meat is home-raised.

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Kubla Cant
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all of the substantial number of different kinds of bacon in Tesco has added water

It goes against the grain to praise Tesco, but at the moment I'm buying their Finest dry-cured bacon, and it's completely slime-free. It's annoying how often allegedly dry-cure bacon is full of water (notably Waitrose own brand). Presumably they pump the water in before or after the dry-curing process, or maybe they make the pigs drink a lot.

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Kubla Cant
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Does it taste naturally of bacon, or do they add bacon flavour? If the latter, is it the flavour of good bacon or nasty bacon? And do they use bacon because it's the only flavour strong enough to disguise the native flavour of the algae?

Most important of all, does it fry without exuding white slime, unlike 90% of supermarket bacon?

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The Great Barrier Relief – Inside London's heavy metal and concrete defence act

Kubla Cant
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Re: Balanced article

Somehow I suspect the number of 'Merkins proudly sporting "Stockport College" on their chests is somewhat smaller.

But there do seem to be quite a lot wearing "Oxford University" sweatshirts. Maybe they're just Rhodes Scholars.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Balanced article

-1 for "The Bakelite and white-coat era systems were phased out in the 1990s".

I'd be astounded if an installation opened in 1984 used Bakelite. I know that 1984 seems like ancient history, but Bakelite belongs to an earlier era. It was invented in 1907 and by 1993 was old enough to be designated as something called a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

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Kubla Cant
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FAIL

Re: Balanced article

-100 for use of "a VAX running PDP 11".

Does the author think "PDP 11" [sic] is some kind of software? If so, it was very prescient of DEC to write "PDP 11" in 1970, seven years before they invented a VAX to run it on.

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Behold: Pluto's huge ICE MOUNTAINS ... and signs of cryovolcanoes?

Kubla Cant
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Re: mostly...Only Orpheus has returned from Hades.

Can't help you with the frogs, I'm afraid.

In space, no-one can hear you ribbett brekekekex koax koax.

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Ex-MIT prof jailed for 'making experimental film' about bank robbery. In a bank. Without saying it was a film

Kubla Cant
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How tiny the crime of bank robbery is in comparison to the crime of being a bankster, robbing entire countries while sitting at the table with queens and chancellors as "advisers" but in reality, as the real decision makers.

Yawn.

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Did MARS once have OCEANS? Curiosity discovers continental crust

Kubla Cant
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Do they speak Italian on Mars?

the red planet's cotta surface

Panna cotta? Terra cotta? Or just "cooked"?

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My top three IT SNAFUs - and how I fixed them

Kubla Cant
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Heard about this intermittent problem in an office I once worked in. This was in the days of standalone PDP-11s, before networks and PCs. Every few months, there would be evidence of serious disk and memory corruption problems, lasting about an hour.

The office was next to the Thames. Visiting warships would moor alongside HMS Belfast, which was just opposite. When the time came to leave, the radar operators used to run some kind of test, with the result that all nearby computers were thoroughly zapped with radio waves.

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Sixty-five THOUSAND Range Rovers recalled over DOOR software glitch

Kubla Cant
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Range Rover Clown Car

So there's a software "feature" in the Range Rover that opens the doors while you drive along. Is there another that makes the wheels fall off?

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What do you MEAN, 'Click on the thing which looks like a Mondrian?'

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Forward slash

Eventually I discovered they meant forward slashes.

There is no such thing as a "forward slash". There is a slash, and a backslash. A forward slash would have to slope forward more than a slash, so it would overbalance and become an underscore. But "forward slash" isn't the worst; the radio presenter John Humphries is so prurient that he thinks "slash" is a rude word, and he calls it "stroke". Pass the sickbag, Alice.

The correct name for this character is, of course, "solidus". This has the advantage of being both unambiguous and historically interesting. The solidus was the slash used between shillings and pence in £sd prices (eg 2/6d), and was so called because "s" and "d" are the initials of Roman coins, the solidus and the denarius.

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Someone at Subway is a serious security nerd

Kubla Cant
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Password verifiers

The enterprise incarnation of MS Windows evidently includes a feature that allows the BOFH to implement a complex set of password rules without telling anyone what they are. So on the day when you start a new job,and you have 100 other things to remember, you have to go though this:

Computer says "You have to change your password at first login."

You enter a new password from the range of passwords you can remember.

Computer says "No. Does not conform to rules."

You enter a mangled version of one of your memorable passwords.

Computer says "No. Does not conform to rules."

...repeat many times with increasing mangling until...

You enter an impossibly complex password that will conform to just about any rules. It is 30 characters long and includes uppercase, lowercase, digits, punctuation, whitespace, runes and hieroglyphs.

Computer says "Oh all right then."

You immediately forget the complex password.

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Ditch crappy landlines and start reading Twitter, 999 call centres told

Kubla Cant
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Txt vs voice

Anyone who has to communicate with the young people who don't do voice calls will be familiar with the scenario where an exchange that would have taken 30 sec on a voice call takes 30 min of txt exchanges.

-> Where are you?

<- out

-> Out where?

<- cmbrdg

-> What time will you be home?

<- l8r

-> Do you want supper?

<- mb

.....

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NSA snooped on German chancellors for DECADES: Wikileaks

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Ich bin ein Berliner

"famous gaff"

Since we're dicussing the meaning of words, I think I'm entitled to point out that a "famous gaff" would be something you use to kill fish. JFK's mistake was a gaffe.

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PLUTO: The FINAL FRONTIER – best image yet of remote, icy dwarf planet REVEALED

Kubla Cant
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informally known as "the whale"

What about the petunias?

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A quarter of public sector IT workers have never used the cloud

Kubla Cant
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What about the rest?

I'm astonished at the implication that three-quarters of public sector IT workers have "used the cloud". I've worked in a lots of private-sector IT departments, and I'm not aware that anybody "used the cloud".

But the article says that public-sector IT workers send things by post or courier instead of "using the cloud", so it sounds like it's just a silly name for email and ftp. If so, I can proudly claim to have been "using the cloud" for at least 20 years.

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Smartphones are ludicrously under-used, so steal their brains

Kubla Cant
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Re: Meh

the lesson is supercomputers are so cheap they can be embedded anywhere

Exactly. An informative comparison can be made with the development of power tools.

Once upon a time, power tools were relatively expensive, so everyone would buy a single power unit (the drill) and several attachments that could be powered from the drill. Then people realised that they were wasting a lot of time switching attachments so they started to buy self-powered tools instead. Economies of scale brought the cost of the power unit down, and that accelerated the process.

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Russia campaigns to stop SUICIDALLY STUPID selfies

Kubla Cant
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Re: Sure it was the selfie stick?

Yes. Sure it was the selfie* stick. But it wasn't the electrical conductivity of the stick that caused the lightning strike - it was the judgement of $DEITY on selfie-takers. One down, 999,999,999 to go.

* When did we all decide to use baby-talk? Selfie, onesie... should I start saying horsey, piggie and doggie?

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Norks execute underperforming terrapin farm manager

Kubla Cant
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pleased to see various kinds of vegetables growing in thick verdure at every greenhouse

If your greenhouse produce is "growing in thick verdure", it sounds like it's time you did some weeding. I guess Kim doesn't do much gardening.

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We tried using Windows 10 for real work and ... oh, the horror

Kubla Cant
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Re: Move on there - nothing to see

linux sucks ass in a business environment where you have customers using windows word & excel

Here's a horror story that shows how sadly true this is.

I recently received a plain text email inviting me to a webex meeting at 06:00 BST on a Monday morning. I concluded that it was either a considerate attempt to avoid interrupting everyone's working day, or some kind of power-play. Either way, I decided I had to attend as it was important and there were lots of other people involved, so I hauled myself out of bed at 5:00 am to prepare. By 6:30 I was still the only attendee, and I was sick of the hold music on the phone, so I gave up.

When I checked with another invitee, he said "It shows as 2:00 pm in my calendar" (by which he meant Outlook). It seems Microsoft's ploy to make everyone use Outlook is to plague non-users with incorrect and inconvenient invitations. It's obviously not a timezone problem: the invite specifically said BST, and the originating computer is also running on BST.

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WHY did NASA probe go suddenly SILENT - JUST as it was about to send pics of remote ice-world?

Kubla Cant
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Re: because of the nine-hour delay for communications

Because of the nine-hour delay for communications they were unable to press a key to prevent it from running chkdsk when it rebooted.

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This box beams cafes' Wi-Fi over 4kms so you can surf in obscurity

Kubla Cant
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Re: Self destruct?

I was thinking of the TV series, but my memory of TV 50 years ago isn't clear enough to recall exactly what the device was. I was going to admit that it couldn't have been a cassette, but it turns out the Compact Cassette was launched in 1965, and Mission Impossible was on TV from 1966.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Missed a trick........

have it drive round the urban roads at night mostly hidden under parked cars

It's a neat idea, but why do you want to film the underside of parked cars?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: libraries

Think about the IT people working behind the counter at the access point.

So the counter staff in Starbucks are really IT people? Understandable, as they certainly don't know how to make coffee.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Self destruct?

I hope "self destruct" doesn't mean it bursts into flames and burns down the library. The cassettes in the original Mission Impossible used to emit smoke, but no flames*. In real life it might be difficult to guarantee one without the other.

* I guess it wouldn't look too cool if the MI operative had to stamp out flames when his message "destructed" itself. AFAIK this was the original use of the odd phrase "self destruct", and responsible for the odd back-formed verb "to destruct". Why not "destroy"?

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Let me PLUG that up there, love. It’s perfectly standaAAARGH!

Kubla Cant
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Drains

I remember in my first year trying to unblock a rainwater gutter at the front of my house and, having dug down to see if the drain had broken, discovered that there was no drain at all and that the guttering pipe simply poked directly into the solid clay under the paving stones.

My understanding is that rainwater downspouts must not be connected into the foul sewer (assuming that's what you mean by "drain"). Rainwater is supposed to be directed into a soakaway, which generally means it just goes into the ground through the paving. Solid clay doesn't sound like a very effective soakaway, but it's conceivable that there was something more effective at the end of the downspout when it was installed, and that it's filled up with soil over time.

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Chair legs it from UK govt smart meter installation programme

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Re: A modest proposal

@Ledswinger Because supplier margins are around 4%, that's all you'd save

I would guess that 4% is much larger than a typical Forex margin. And you're making the mistake of assuming that the meter is actually buying electricity for me to use, whereas I'm suggesting that it should build a position. Commodity traders don't actually eat all those pork bellies.

Please note the icon that you seem to have missed first time round.

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Kubla Cant
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Joke

A modest proposal

If they're going to all this trouble, why not install really smart meters that do algo trading? I'm thinking of something that can send an RFQ to all the energy suppliers and take forward positions to minimize my energy costs. With 26 million traders, it could be an exciting market.

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Kubla Cant
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@Drefsab_UK: I will use the same amount of electricity with or with a smart meter

Me too.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Correction

Other, non-UK governments are good at big infrastructure projects because they are committed to serving their citizens, not to lining the pockets of themselves and their mates.

Citation required.

Also, I think this assertion may be susceptible to the application of Hanlon's Razor.

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Goodbye Vulcan: Blighty's nuclear bomber retires for the last time

Kubla Cant
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Re: The RN's inability to operate unsupported wasn't the RAF's fault

There's a well known saying that the military always start out fighting the previous war.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: A beautiful aircraft though - Possibly the loudest thing I've ever seen move.

I saw a Vulcan take off at the Farnborough Air Show as a kid - I suppose it must have been the early 1960s. I recall the massive noise that made the ground shake, and also the incredibly steep climb as soon as it left the ground (I think they were showing off).

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F# earns Syme top Royal Academy of Engineering award

Kubla Cant
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A quick, unscientific way to assess the popularity of a language* is to see how much demand there is for the skill. JobServe returns 15 jobs requiring F#. Not many, compared with C# (1599), Java (1797), JavaScript (1736) or even Scala (162). This suggests that the opinion of people who actually use programming languages to do stuff isn't quite as enthusiastic as that of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Cross-platform? Up to a point. F# seems to be tied to Visual Studio**, which I think only runs in Windows, and the output is apparently CLI, JavaScript or GPU code. It's not my area of expertise, but depite Mono, I'm not aware of extensive use of CLI languages on non-MS platforms.

* Or at least to assess whether learning it is a good career move.

** Yes, I know real developers don't use an IDE (or a screen, or a keyboard).

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Devs, welcome your EVIL ROBOT OVERLORDS from MIT

Kubla Cant
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Re: Black Watch Opportunities in Dark Web Ventures at the Silvery Lined Cloud Interface

I always try to read the posts by amanfromMars 1, but I find brain-pain kicks in after about five lines. I'm off to lie down.

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Revive the Nathan Barley Quango – former Downing Street wonk

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Scandal-mag-cum-style-sheet

I think "cum", Latin for "with", is found in place names where two villages shared a single parish church. Within a few miles of where I live are Pidley-cum-Fenton and Earith-cum-Bluntisham. Neither name is in current use except maybe at the church. The Manchester district of Chorlton-cum-Hardy is a case where the composite name seems to have survived.

The formula X-cum-Y, meaning "X amalgamated with Y" is presumably derived from this.

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Giant FLYING SPACE ROCKS could KILL US ALL, warns Brian May

Kubla Cant
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Re: Welcome to the 19th century

If the Siberian object, at 120 feet across, was equivalent to to 185 * Hiroshima (185 * 20 kilotonnes = 3700 kilitonnes), why was the Chelyabinsk object, at slightly over half the size (65 feet), only equivalent to 500 kilotonnes?

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That man told me to stuff a ROLE up my USER ENTRY!

Kubla Cant
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Re: Login Names and Access...

Passwords had to be changed weekly. Woe betide you if you took a Friday off because that was when everyone had to change them.

If I've ever changed my password on a Friday I spend most of Monday morning trying to guess what I changed it to.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Login names

As a contractor, I've had more than my fair share of usernames. In my current job my username is a 9-digit number.

Though I too have a poor memory for names, I can usually remember a username derived in some way from my real name. But a number is impossible. I daren't log out.

I am not a number, I am a free lancer.

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GM's cheaper-than-Tesla 'leccy car tested at batt-powered data centre

Kubla Cant
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Fuel tax

I don't know about the UK but up here in Australia, fuel excise goes straight into consolidated revenue. It's not a road funding system.

Same in the UK. Few taxes are hypothecated, anywhere.

But a "reliable" source tells us, "government revenue from fuel duty in 2009 was £25.894 billion, with a further £3.884 billion being raised from the VAT on the duty contributing some 4 per cent to the total UK tax revenues." That's about £30bn that's going to have to be found somewhere. Either direct taxes go up, or, more likely, electricity gets a two-tier tax system rather like the current system for diesel.

I wonder how the economics of an EV would look if it paid £1200/year in fuel tax?

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Kubla Cant
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I'm sure you'll be glad to know

Not directly relevant, but still an arresting statistic: Britain has twice as many taxpayer-funded electric car charging points as it actually has electric cars.

From the same article:

“If you were to charge a car in 12 minutes for a range of 500 km, for example, you're probably using up electricity required to power 1,000 houses," Yoshikazu Tanaka, a top Toyota engineer, told the Reuters news agency in April. “That totally goes against the need to stabilise electricity use on the grid."

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Warning flags were raised over GDS farm payments system – yet it still failed

Kubla Cant
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Re: Gov is sure to fail

Underpaid Overpaid under-qualified mediocre civil servants

FTFY

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Kubla Cant
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Why do government projects fail?

I'm genuinely interested to know.

We all make a habit of deriding the incompetence and failure rate that bedevil givernment IT projects. But you have to wonder why it always happens. Is it failure to analyse the problem domain fully? Poor design skills? Incompetent developers who don't deliver to spec?

If the answer is inadequate skills, why? The days when public sector work was badly-paid are long gone.

I used to assume that scale must be a big factor, but that doesn't seem to be a legitimate excuse here. There are 300,000 farms in the UK, so it's big, but not overwhelming. And financial institutions deal with much larger systems without major issue (except RBS).

The excuse here seems to be "The challenges for a system like rural payments were integrations [around] legacy, third-party supplier...", but that's the case for most systems. It's vanishingly rare to build a system that doesn't have these features.

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BOFH: Don't go changing on Friday evenings, I don't wanna work that hard

Kubla Cant
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+1 for the Four Tops reference!

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Humongous headsets and virtual insanity

Kubla Cant
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Try doing certain things to yourself when you've got a blindfold or hood on

I'm reluctant to sound like an expert in this area, but I'm sure the things people do to themselves while watching porn can be done in the pitch dark, if necessary.

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'Backronym' crowdfunds itself into Oxford English Dictionary

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: anything goes.

Unnecessary quotes.

I disagree. The formula x means y has two usages:

x implies y, as in Nuclear war means the end of civilisation.

x can be paraphrased as y, as in Antediluvian means "before Noah's flood".

In this case my intention was something closer to the latter. In other words, not The text referenced in your posting does not imply that everything is permitted, but The text referenced in your posting cannot be summarised as "everything is permitted". To my ear, at least, the two are quite distinct.

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Pirate MEP pranks Telegraph with holiday snap scaremongering

Kubla Cant
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As far as I know, the object of copyright law is not so much to prevent publication but to ensure adequate compensation for originators of IP.

If you publish a picture of a historic building, who gets the royalties? Gustave Eiffel (d. 1923), in the case of the Eiffel Tower? William the Conqueror for the Tower of London? Stonehenge, er...?

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