* Posts by Kubla Cant

1234 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Top ten car gadgets: Get your motor running with new shiny-shiny

Kubla Cant
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What's inside?

The EE Buzzard looks like a monstrous thing. Why does it need to be the size of a drinks can when it offers a small part of the functionality you get from the smartphone that fits in your pocket? Especially as most of the components seem to be on the outside of the can.

And why is it such a vile colour? I could understand if it was disguised as a drinks can, thereby avoiding the attention of thieves, but this seems designed to attract their attention.

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Start packing your bags for a Windows Server 2003 migration

Kubla Cant
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I recently spent 6 months migrating legacy applications off WS2003. The main reason it took so long was the lamentable state of the deployment documentation. But I have to wonder what the company was supposed to gain from the upgrade. Retirement of unreliable old boxes? Maybe, but you don't have to install a new OS for that. As it is, the company is 26 * my weekly rate poorer with no measurable benefit to show for it.

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'Our entire corporation cannot send or receive emails from Outlook'

Kubla Cant
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Using random spin glass instances as a benchmark, we find no evidence of quantum speedup when the entire data set is considered, and obtain inconclusive results when comparing subsets of instances on an instance-by-instance basis.

That's the way it is with quantum computers. You either know where they are or how fast they compute, but not both. If you don't watch them they're really fast, but as soon as you try to measure the results they're no better than ordinary computers.

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Devs: Fancy a job teaching Siri to speak the Queen's English?

Kubla Cant
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Re: "this writer's Apple Map app has started giving directions in a Welsh accent"

I've had difficulty with anglophone satnavs - both Android and Garmin - when driving in Italy. All the names get an English pronunciation. "Viale Doglie", for example came out more like "vile doglead". Some of the more polysyllabic Italian names required so much re-interpretation that I missed the turning.

It must be much worse in languages with more complicated pronunciation rules than Italian. If I go to Belgium, I wonder if it will give me directions to Wipers?

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Microsoft compliance police to NHS: We want your money

Kubla Cant
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Re: ..service disruption..staff being unable or unwilling to adapt..

retraining from XP/Office 2003 to Linux/OpenOffice would be about as disruptive as changing to Win 7/Office 2010

Less disruptive, given that all developments in MS Office seem to aim to make the UI as unlike the previous version as possible. Libre/Open Office have a straightforward interface that's just like earlier versions of Office. No ribbons in sight.

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You need a list of specific unknowns we may encounter? Huh?

Kubla Cant
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Familiar story

They tell you they need a contractor in place ASAP, so you beg your previous client to let you off a few days early. There then follows a three-week process of reference-check timewasting*. When you arrive on site it's apparently a complete surprise to everybody: there's nothing for you to do**, and you idle around reading documentation while they think something up.

* I recently had to prove my address for the past five years, so I sent a copy of my mortgage confirmation from 11 years ago, together with the confirmation that I'd just paid it off. Not good enough. I had to supply five years of utility bills to prove that I hadn't moved out and back in.

** Which is just as well, because there are no resources to do it with. In my latest (very highly-paid) contract, it took over a month before I got a desk and a computer.

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BOFH: You can take our lives, but you'll never take OUR MACROS

Kubla Cant
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Re: Access

To repurpose a joke about regular expressions*: you have a problem. You decide to solve it with Access. Now you have two problems.

*as far as I know this is actually the only joke about regular expressions.

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Spanish struggle to control spelling of 'WhatsApp'

Kubla Cant
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Re: Not the best ever Friday article

Maybe not, but how many include the phrase "metonymic gender assignment"?

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DINOSAUR BLOOD: JUST RIGHT, as Goldilocks might say, if drinking it

Kubla Cant
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Re: Bumble bees

What's more, bumble bees have an 11-metre wingspan!

That proves everything!

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DAMN you El Reg, CALL ME A BOFFIN, demands enraged boffin

Kubla Cant
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Re: Why is The Reg hostile to psychologists?

I'm fairly sure that the term "trick-cyclists" was coined to refer to psychiatrists, rather than psychologists.

At the time when I studied psychology* it was trying very hard to be a serious science**. The result was an immense dose of very boring stuff about rats and herring gulls, and lots of statistics.

* I wouldn't have the nerve to call myself a psychologist.

** According to Rutherford "All science is either physics or stamp collecting", so only physicists have a right to sneer at this.

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UK govt preps World War 2 energy rationing to keep the lights on

Kubla Cant
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Re: Actual preparation for the future

shift water from where there's lots of it (I'm thinking of you, Manchester)

It's a long time since I lived near Manchester, but in those days it got most of its water from the Lake District. It may have a reputation for rain, but that doesn't make it a source of water. Have they discovered massive aquifers beneath the city?

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Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: What to do with the waste

One person's life time's lifetime supply of long term nuclear waste if using 100% nuclear power fits in a dinner plate.

Well, that solves the disposal problem. We can just eat the nuclear waste.

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Stephen Fry MADNESS: 'New domain names GENERATE NEW IP NUMBERS'

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Forgive him....

In view of the import of your post, I feel entitled to point out that "dost" and "hast" are second person singular forms of their verbs, not just hilarious old fashioned versions of the third person plural.

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Ukrainian teen created in lab passes Turing Test – famous nutty prof

Kubla Cant
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Re: AI is harder than Turing expected

@Nick Ryan: "5g" languages would make programmers obsolete

I thought it was 4GL that made programmers obsolete. Does this mean I've been acting obsolete for no reason over the past 20 years?

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DOCX disaster recovery: How I rescued my wife from XM-HELL

Kubla Cant
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Re: Which is why...

RTF is actually a very nice format - easily parsed, human readable

My recollection of hand-fixing RTF files is that they were only readable in the sense that they consisted of printable ASCII characters. Understanding the RTF was another matter entirely. Maybe I'm subhuman.

The problem, I suspect, may be that the RTF emitted by Word suffers from the same lack of structure as the HTML emitted by Word. Editing a Word-generated HTML document isn't a pleasant experience.

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Freeview's rumoured '£100m YouView killer' is real – and it's yet another digital TV thing

Kubla Cant
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I'm not sure you will have to buy another TV. The net service screen on mine seems to show new applications from time to time. I assume it gets updates from somewhere.

Anything that improves on BBC iplayer will be welcome. It's probably the worst UI in the world.

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Please be seated at your FOUR-LEGGED PC

Kubla Cant
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Re: "The desk itself is unremarkable:" ?

I don't think any professional computer user would be satisfied with a single monitor, anyway.

And why is the keyboard on a stupid little shelf at the front? I thought that feature was confined to the tatty chipboard "workstations" found in furniture warehouses. Visit any modern office and you'll find everybody has a keyboard on their desk.

I also notice that the stupid shelf allows no space in front of the keyboard for resting your wrists. Expect lots of RSI with this thing, then.

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Two more Eagles land in AMD's bird-of-prey aerie

Kubla Cant
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Aerie???

Don't you mean "eyrie"?

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Swiping your card at local greengrocers? Miscreants will swipe YOU in a minute

Kubla Cant
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More than a thousand ... worldwide

I don't want to appear complacent, but a thousand worldwide isn't exactly an epidemic.

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Still using e-mail? Marketers say you're part of DARK SOCIAL

Kubla Cant
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Re: Since I've had a smartphone...

"Full English spelling"

When I got a new smartphone recently I was delighted to find that the predictive text now predicts words. You can compose an entire message without significant use of brain cells, and the result is readable., though strangely devoid of meaning.

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Urinating teen polluted 57 Olympic-sized swimming pools - cops

Kubla Cant
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Re: Some one else needs to be charged ...

Last time I was in America I ordered a glass of Bourbon in a bar in St Louis and actually left it undrunk because of the foul smell of chlorine from the ice in it.

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Why won't you DIE? IBM's S/360 and its legacy at 50

Kubla Cant
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A thousand engineers toiled to eventually produce one million lines of code.

1,000 lines of code per engineer, then. It doesn't seem much.

I honestly don't know anything about this kind of programming, but I assume whatever code they were using would generated an op-code per line, like assembler. I'd guess that you'd be lucky to send a line to a printer with 1,000 op-codes.

Can anyone explain?

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Nothing's as SCARY as an overly aggressive SOFTWARE PIMP

Kubla Cant
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Why Adaptec bothered with the 16bit and 32bit cards

Remember the archetypal story of the slugged mainframes?

IBM used to sell a big, powerful mainframe and a less powerful (but still very, very big) mainframe*. It emerged that the two machines were in fact the same, but the less powerful one was slugged** to make it slower.

When challenged about this, IBM pointed out that the total number of computers they could sell by using this strategy was greater than the number they would sell if everyone got the powerful computer for slightly less money, so the huge development costs could be distributed over more units. Everyone wins***.

* IBM veterans will no doubt be able to fill in the model numbers for me.

** I'm sure that's the expression that was used. Did they hit the computer with a sockful of sand?

*** But IBM wins most, naturally.

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Where the HELL is my ROBOT BUTLER?

Kubla Cant
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Boffin

Re: Where the hell is my ROBOT butler?

Oi el reg?

I can reply to my own post?

The technical term is self-abuse.

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Deep desert XP-ocalypse averted as Reg man returns

Kubla Cant
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Re: Out of curiosity

There are a large number of outback aboriginal communities where non-indigenous are prohibited from entering.

I don't want to upset anyone, but this sounds rather like apartheid. In the opposite direction, I suppose.

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Organic food: Pricey, not particularly healthy, won't save you from cancer

Kubla Cant
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Re: so NOT putting lots of chemicals in your body is NOT ok then?

@Steve Davies 3 My homegrown organic veggies and fruit taste a lot better than what you can buy in the supermarkets.

I'm sure that's true, but it's probably not because they're organic.

Gardeners tend to select varieties for flavour, while farmers go for high yield. Also home grown produce is liable to suffer occasional stress from lack of water, which apparently enhances flavour. Farmers make sure their produce is pumped full of as much water as possible.

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Kubla Cant
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Lord Melchett or the 4th Baron Melchett

I liked him in Blackadder, but he seems to have got less amusing lately.

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How Microsoft can keep Win XP alive – and WHY: A real-world example

Kubla Cant
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Re: XP Needs to Die

useful tweeks such as when you press F2 to change a file name the extension isn't selected

I actually find that feature mildly annoying.

It's an extension of the "hide extensions for known file types" philosophy, and the infuriating way everything's now a "Library" instead of an actual disk directory. Acceptable on a consumer PC, perhaps, but why propagate this nannying to servers? Why, when I'm logged in as a server admin and I start Explorer, do I see a load of crap about Games and Music Libraries?

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El Reg's Deep Outback XP upgrade almost foiled by KILLER ARACHNIDS

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Just to be pedantic

"Poisonous means it's bad for your health if ingested, venomous means its bad for you if introduced to the bloodstream."

Since we're in hair-splitting mode, allow me to disagree.

"Poisonous" is what a substance is. The stuff on the tip of a blowpipe dart is poisonous, but possibly harmless if ingested.

"Venomous" is the characteristic of a creature that can deliver a poisonous substance by stinging, biting or other active means.

Plants, for example, may be poisonous but not venomous. There are, I believe, frogs that have a poisonous coating all over their skin. Whether these count as venomous, I'm not sure.

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Dutch doctors replace woman's skull with 3D-printed plastic copy

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: "by carrying out the first skull transplant using plastic parts built in a 3D printer."

the British Pedantic Society ... soon to be renamed British Society of Pedants

Expect fierce opposition from the Society of British Pedants.

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Kubla Cant
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Transparent

I just finished reading another Reg article about a "glass brain" application.

Now I read of a woman with an acrylic skull. Presumably if they left a window in her scalp she could do the glass brain thing without recourse to MRI.

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Sick of walking into things while gawping at your iPhone? Apple has a patent app. for that

Kubla Cant
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Cow?

What's the significance of the bizarre exchange of cow-related messages? Is this an Internet meme I've missed out on?

Do txters have an unusual dread of cows?

And why does the message "But why should I hide?" apparently precede the warning about the cow? Is it because of predictive text?

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Sticky Tahr-fy pudding: Ubuntu 14.04 slickest Linux desktop ever

Kubla Cant
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Stop fiddling with my interface!

Is there some replicable research to show that window buttons are easier to use at the top-left than at the top-right? That users rarely click the minimize button?

Is there anything more than developer whim or the craving to be different to back up the disruptive changes to the UI that every new release of every OS introduces?

I've had to install about five different distros* in the past few weeks. I'm not exactly new to computer use, but in some cases (Unity, for example), I've been utterly paralysed. Even KDE comes up with some kind of container on the desktop containing a legend along the lines of "This frame is empty". Yes, I can see that, but what's if for, and how am I supposed to rectify its emptiness?

Imagine if the UI for machines was subject to such arbitrary changes. Some cars with steering than goes left when you turn right, some with tillers, some without a brake pedal?

*This isn't an anti-Linux diatribe. Mint, for example, seems perfectly usable. No wonder it's so popular.

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Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: re: command line (@ A J Stiles)

Shame Windows doesn't have command-line editing to allow you to fix typos.

What version of Windows are you using? Even DOS had command-line editing.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Head to head

I used to love VS. VS2012 encouraged me to look elsewhere.

I'm mostly a Java developer, but I've been using VS 2010 for the past six months. I can't believe it. It has fewer features than Eclipse and IntelliJ had 10 years ago. It seems you have to buy some kind of add-on to do anything but the most rudimentary refactoring.

What do all these year suffixes signify? The only IDE I can imagine that's more primitive than VS 2010 is the Visual Studio 6 I used in the last century.

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Raised £350bn in crowdsourced funding? Tell me about it (not)

Kubla Cant
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Re: I'm sure you were railing against something

Only tangentially relevant, but it's Friday:

One of the most annoying things in the world is the pictures used to illustrate the personal finance pages in newspapers. The things they're writing about have no visual attributes (what does a photograph of an ISA look like?), but they have a quota of pictures to fill, so they fill the spaces with irrelevant pictures connected to the text by tendentious captions.

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Live in the middle of nowhere? CONGRATS. Some of you can pay EE for 4G

Kubla Cant
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Flame

I can't get an EE signal inside my house*. I'd change network, but all the networks' maps suggest that I'd need to go outside, or even go to the next village**, to get a signal. This is all very well if I'm making calls - I can just use the land line - but one of the reasons I have a mobile phone is so that I can receive calls from people who might offer me work.

*Middle of nowhere? No. 8 miles from the Cambridge Science Park.

**I suppose that's what they mean by a mobile phone. You have to go somewhere else to use it.

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Amazon Workspaces: A dish best served later

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

How much???

The base offering costs $35.00 per month

Even if it worked properly, and it sounds like it doesn't, I can't count the number of ways in which I could achieve similar results for less money.

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TV sales PLUMMET. But no one's prepared to say what we all know

Kubla Cant
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@rhydian

I've not actually had to change a CCFL or LED due to failure as yet

While I agree in general with the points you make, I have to say you've been extremely lucky with your CCFLs. I've had them fail in a matter of months. I've even contemplated contacting the manufacturers about the optimistic guarantees printed on their packaging, but I'm too lazy.

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How to Poo on a Date wins odd book title of the year

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Prion Press?

Is it run by mad cows?

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Middle England's allotments become metric battlefield

Kubla Cant
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Re: Get a life...

Feet and fathoms are much better than metres for nautical (and aviation) purposes.

I think if you're aviating in fathoms you have a problem.

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Barclays' DOUBLE DIGIT contractor rate cut? Not for us, say PPI bods

Kubla Cant
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From what I hear the contract market is pretty buoyant at the moment. I suppose Barclays see this as a good time to slim down their contract staff by cutting the rate. A proportion of contractors leave. Trouble is, those are the ones you need to stay. OK, sack the remainder and hire the good ones back again. What could possibly go wrong?

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Reality check: Java 8 finally catches a multi-core break

Kubla Cant
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As for multicore, there is always Go.

Upvoted for the terrific Scala/Go site you linked to.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Good performance? Scalable?

The experts here who know how slow Java is are missing a huge opportunity. I bet all the financial institutions that run high-frequency trading applications written in Java would love to hear how they can boost performance by rewriting in a faster language.

And for those arguing about the syntactical merits of this language or another - that's not really the issue. An intelligent developer can get up to speed with any modern language. The great advantage Java has is its massive body of open-source libraries, and the vast ecosystem of Java programming knowledge that is available.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Java on the desktop is dead

@Conrad Longmore: citation required.

I'm not aware of much use of Java for locally-hosted desktop applications, but I don't have the advantage of your omniscience.

I can assure you, however, that it's extensively used via applets and Web Start applications. I used to think that applets were just a way of embedding gadgets in web pages, and that they were obsolete when better HTML and client script came along. Since then I've worked on several market-leading trading platforms that are written in Java and delivered over the Web.

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Kubla Cant
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@Destroy All Monsters: In the real world, Mr Monsters, adoption of a new version of a development platform is constrained by the necessity to regression-test what is often a large body of code, and to maintain compatibility with existing libraries and infrastructure. Developer ignorance is rarely a factor. If it was left to developers, most coding would be done on the bleeding edge.

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Bing accused of out-censoring the Great Firewall

Kubla Cant
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Re: Never confuse malice-

What is it with Microsoft and search? They have a long history of failure to make it work as expected.

They always seem to have imagined that the primary role of a search engine is to find reasons for not showing things. Early versions of Windows file search were limited to "known file types" by default. Even today, I can enter "foo.bar" in the Windows 7 Explorer search box and get no results, when "dir /s foo.bar" returns a result.

All Microsoft search facilities should have a checkbox labelled "Don't try to be clever, just show me the effing files".

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Microsoft frisked blogger's Hotmail inbox, IM chat to hunt Windows 8 leaker, court told

Kubla Cant
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Win 8 trade secrets

Secrets such as "How to spend millions of dollars developing an operating system nobody wants or likes"?

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Keep your quinoa, hipsters: Boffins back healthy slabs of choc

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: So is it ok to chew coca leaves now?

Not only "coca" and "cocoa", but also "cacao". The vowels seem to drift around at random.

"Cacao" is the stuff sold by the rather annoying toff from the TV series Willy's Wonky Chocolate Factory, better known as "How I struggled desperately to build my small business despite several million pounds-worth of free TV publicity". The chocolate's not bad, actually.

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Eight hour cleansing to get all the 'faggots' and 'bitches' OUT of Github

Kubla Cant
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Re: That's my code knackered then.....

Up in Yorkshire we burn our faggots.

And in Eastern England they use faggots to build roads and banks. With any luck there are quite a lot of faggots in the vicinity of Scunthorpe.

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