1139 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010
Re: Plumbing pedantry
@frank ly: You're correct in identifying "operative" as an adjective, but mistaken in thinking the usage wrong.
"operative" in this context is an instance of an adjectival noun. The missing "man" or "person" is understood. Adjectival nouns are more common in inflected languages than in English, although there are plenty of English examples, because the inflection of the adjective supplies information about the implied noun. They aren't a recent invention, either; "cetera" is Latin for "other things", where "-a" is the neuter plural ending that implies "things".
That said, I have to agree that the "operative" usage carries overtones of officialese, perhaps because it de-humanises an operator by reducing him to one of his attributes. I think that's why I chose it.
May I point out that it's a sink plunger.
It clears blockages by establishing a seal around the lip of the plunger, which allows the operative to send shock waves down the blocked pipe by vigorously working the plunger while crying "Exterminate!". This would never work in a toilet because the outlet is too big for the seal to cover it.
My ex-wife puts knives in the dishwasher, and hers are always blunt. Mind you, they're crap knives to start with. The other problem is that the knife is always in the dishwasher when you need it.
I've never used a sharpener - the grinding noise as you drag the blade through it sounds too much like damage happening. For the past couple of years I've been using a ceramic "steel" , and I find it much more effective than the steel steel I used before. When I bought my insanely expensive Global knife, I couldn't persuade myself to get an £80 Global ceramic steel as well. I subsequently found a ceramic steel in Ikea, for £10 IIRC. Actually, the top-of-the-range knives I bought in Ikea are pretty good, too, and much cheaper than Global.
@Hungry Sean: "Sabatier" isn't a brand. It used to be a name used indiscriminately by manufacturers in Thiers , the French equivalent of Sheffield, but more recently it just describes any French-style cooking knife, typically with a triangular blade and a black handle.
Why is this article categorised under "Cloud"? It seems to be about a local storage device. Unless my buzzwords are woefully out-of-date, that's exactly what the Cloud isn't.
Re: AdBlocker Plus
A few years ago, when I couldn't find a decent ad-blocker for Chrome on Linux, I installed Privoxy, an ad-blocking proxy server. I haven't updated the block list for a good while, but it still seems to keep out most of the junk.
As it's a proxy server, rather than a browser add-on, it works transparently for all browsers. Also, it returns a dummy response for all requests, which I imagine makes it much harder for anti-ad-blocking software to detect the block.
Re: From little Acorns
I think the competition for historic building status is a bit stronger in Cambridge than in Los Altos.
Re: They'd be better shifting to DAB+
many of the early DAB-only sets will have been replaced by newer models that are DAB+ compatible anyway
Why? My two DAB radios are in the same condition as when I bought them. Barring accidents, they should be good for about 50 years. If I'm compelled to replace perfectly sound kit that I've been encouraged to buy because of the next stupid fad I shall expect to be compensated.
Maybe your radios have a hard life and need frequent replacement.
@redpola DAB - requires highly-developed and non-trivial silicone
You mean you can receive DAB on breast implants? Or just that it gets on yer tits?
I'm on Orange, previously on Vodafone with the same number. I registered with TPS quite a while ago, and the number of spam messages and unsolicited calls I get is small enough that it's not worth the trouble of making a fuss about it.
Re: Payday loan and betting, eh ?
Accrington Stanley? Who are they?
I bet there aren't many of you who can claim to have been to an Accrington Stanley match. I can. They played Hartlepool United at home. They lost.
And that was the end of my interest in football.
Coding vs Writing - which is the dull mechanical skill?
You start off with a set of results you want to achieve. These depend on each other and on external factors. You arrange them in the correct logical sequence, reference the external factors, and connect everything together. If this doesn't produce the required output, you go through making adjustments and re-ordering until it does. Finally, you make sure that it's all syntactically valid and easy to follow.
A generalised description of coding, or possibly of journalistic writing. (If you're a great author there's probably a bit more to it, though I love the idea of Finnegan's Wake as the literary equivalent of obfuscated Perl.)
Re: @ Sir Runcible Spoon - Sir
Scraping the bottom of the esquire barrel...
"Esquire" seems to belong to a different category from "Mr", "Mrs" etc, because of its usage. Nowadays it's mostly confined to addresses. My impression is that it became common in the 18th century, but that it was never used in the same way as "Mr". One can imagine "How very ill Miss Eliza Bennet looks this morning, Mr. Darcy", but substitute "Fitzwilliam Darcy esquire", and it sounds absurd.
I have an idea that until the late 19th century "Esquire" denoted some kind of gentry status, possibly a man who was armigerous but not titled.
Re: @ Sir Runcible Spoon - Sir
I seem to recall it's recent conventional useage (which has sadly lapsed) was applied to young men before they became a 'Mr.' i.e. when they got married - a little bit like Miss and Mrs
I thought unmarried young men were styled "Master", until the usage lapsed in the face of objections from young men called Bates.
Also, I believe it should be "its recent conventional usage".
Re: @ James Micallef
if she made a sex tape willingly but under the assumption it would be private, then uploading it was a heinous crime
It was a pretty nasty breach of trust, but it wasn't "a heinous crime". It's not hard to think of quite a few other ways in which sexual partners can betray each other.
I doubt that you would be recommending a gaol term if he'd treated his friends to graphic descriptions, or even a private video show, though both would be a betrayal of trust. The distinction seems to lie in the scale of the exposure, which isn't really the moral issue.
Re: Free from what, exactly?
@I ain't Spartacus: The question is whether our brains are just very complicated, but squishy, computers.
Gilbert Ryle's phrase "the ghost in the machine" exposes the problem of thinking that we have anything beyond a squishy computer to work with. If you once accept that mental processes involve something beyond the physical then anything goes. Non-physical thought processes are as intrinsically likely as gods, fairies and flying spaghetti monsters.
He/his, she/her, they/their
While "his" has the endorsement of grammar Nazis, "her" is espoused by the politically correct, and "their" has the overwhelming backing of popular usage, it's odd that all these groups would probably object to "it" and "its" to indicate a person of unspecified gender. In most cases it would be clear enough from the context that the referend was not inanimate.
Re: In more civilised times
@Chairo: a single thoughtless action, put on the internet by another thoughtless person
It's a wise policy to bear in mind that things you do in public are ... public.
If the woman in the story is posting pictures of men who catcalled her in private, then she's invading their privacy. But if, as is probable, they did it in public, there's no privacy to invade.
In these days of ubiquitous camera phones, surveillance cameras and Google vans, the only way to ensure that something you do doesn't end up on the Internet is not to do it in public. Maybe this is a good thing, maybe not, but it's the way things are.
Re: so... surely there must also be the opposite ?
I think it's the chapter in Freakonomics mentioned in a previous post that tells of a man who named his sons Loser and Winner. With grim inevitability, they turned out the opposite way round, IIRC.
Re: Alas, all is vanity...
Etymology would suggest that it's Peter that means "The Rock".
Re: Not to be racist
Freakonomics, or a similar book, contains a table that plots weird children's names against the terminal educational age of parents. The lower the TEA, the more exotic the more exotic the name.
My personal bête noir is people who give their children names that are already familiar forms of other names. If you want him to be known as Jack, baptise (or register) him as John. That way he gets a choice.
Re: Bike likers
It's not the diphthong that ASCII threatens, it's the ligature; "ae" replaces "æ". To be fair, the death of the ligature is old news; even in the days of hot metal, many fonts, and many more compositors, didn't support ligatures. Strictly, neither "ae" or "æ" is a diphthong, which consists of consecutive vowels with distinct sounds (exhaustive information here).
The "ae" combination seems to have been on the way out for some time, anyway: "mediæval" is now mostly "medieval", even among a population as reactionary as medievalists, and I don't think "pedagogue" has been "pædagogue" in living memory.
Was it the Politics, the Philosophy or the Economics that her clothing lacked?
Re: The French don't NEED indicators.
it's just to indicate they are in the fast lane
There's more to it than that.
The left-hand indicator means "I am here in the fast lane driving my clapped-out Citroen at 150 km/h** and I find myself 2m from your rear bumper. I expect you to pull yourself over into the slow-moving traffic on the right so that I can accelerate myself to 155 and overtake you."
The right-hand indicator means "I hear you sound the horn because I have just swerved in front of you without warning causing you to brake yourself hard. You are a type of unkempt merino sheep!"
** He has removed the carpet so he can push the pedal down further.
Prior to standardisation there were several occasions when I responded to an outrageous example of bad driving by mouthing "You *&^%$ @:~#£!" and aggressively washing my windscreen at the offending driver.
Re: So US judges believe "National Security" trumps *everything* else.
What if he'd supplied them in hand-written form? An illegible font is a matter of choice, whereas bad handwriting is just the way you write.
Maybe he'd have been put in detention to brush up his handwriting.
Re: "are suspected to be involved"
The document makes it clear that there are only suspicions of a crime.
Crime? I thought copyright infringement was a tort.
I thought the cables were called cat 5 because that's the number of cat videos per second they are capable of handling. Was I mistaken?
I think it looks more like an overfed wild boar than a wild cat. Thin animals like most cats and dogs bend and straighten their backs as they run. This is more like a podgy animal with thin legs.
The interesting thing is the way this machine seems so much more lifelike than most bipedal robots. I suppose we're used to the widely varied morphology of animals like dogs, so anything that approximates a dog appears canine.
Re: It will also be handy for
I wouldn't hold your breath for replacement of the Cambridge-Huntingdon section.
They spent so much money and time on the feasibility study that they can't actually afford a new road. Mind you, the bridge over the East Coast Main Line at Huntingdon station seems to be in danger of collapse, which may force things to move on a bit.
Re: "What's this bear crap doing in my woods?" asked Christopher Robin
+1 for the title
Re: Yes, but...
I think it's a wallaby wannabe.
...the wireless component of mobile networks gets faster and faster.
Meanwhile, the UK mobile operators continue to link their base stations to the internet with wet string, and charge £20 for sloooow delivery of a Gib of data over this pathetic infrastructure.
Forgive me if I don't get excited.
This solution, coined CMX for Facebook Wi-Fi...
Can anybody suggest what this means? Is "coined" supposed to be a hip alternative to "called"? If so, are quotation marks optional when you use it?
Re: More wheels than seats?
@AC: Yes, plus numerous gearwheels etc.
But that's not what's intended by the question "How many wheels does this car have?" For a conventional car, any value more than 4 will lead people to wonder what planet you come from.
Nore wheels than seats?
I'm struggling to think of any cars with five or six wheels.
@Alan Brown It's a parking brake - and using it at lights, etc is an instant license fail
It's hard to reconcile your assertion with the fact that my car has an option to apply the handbrake automatically when the vehicle stops. I tried it and found it rather annoying, but there's clearly a (legal) demand for such a feature.
Many Americans seem to regard the handbrake as some kind of fossil and never use it even when parking on a steep hill. It's not entirely surprising; all the American cars I drove about 25 years ago had weird handbrakes that you applied with a lever but released with a pedal - or was it the other way round? Whoever thought up that arrangement could do with learning about user interfaces.
the unit that takes up most of the space in the glove box
Why does a unit that appears to have the functionality of a pocket-size mobile phone take up most of the space in the glove box? Is it a very tiny glove box? Have they built the unit using mainframe technology?
Re: Hugely impressive.
The most impressive thing about the page you linked to, and also about the similar 10 biggest Wikipedia hoaxes is that they are so spectacularly dull. Most of them are uninteresting falsehoods about slebs I've never heard of. Apparently Wikipedia said somebody called Sinbad was dead when he wasn't. I thought Sinbad was a fictional character in The 1001 Nights.
I love the skeleton key item, though. It's tantalisingly plausible, but you feel it's probably a hoax.
a cyber arms treaty that could stem the use of online attacks
The obvious parallel is with treaties that limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons or ban the use of biological weapons. As far as I know it's very, very difficult to build a nuke in your bedroom, and both hard and risky to make biological weapons there*. Also, either activity will tend to leave evidence that points to the perpetrator. In consequence, both these activities are mostly limited to nation states. Cyber arms, are much more amenable to private enterprise, and their originators aren't likely to sign treaties.
* e.g. weaponised smelly socks
Re: open source Windows XP
I suspect that it might be hard to find volunteers to work on an open-source XP project. There's not much kudos in patching up 13-year-old cruft.
It is possible to build operating systems where version upgrades can be installed without major disruption to the applications they host. VMS, for example, managed a migration to a new processor architecture (VAX to Alpha), though obviously native applications had to be recompiled. The secret, I suspect, is to take more care when creating the original system than Microsoft ever did.
That said, I wonder how many directors of companies that still run XP are driving around in 13-year-old cars?
Re: If you've got to do all this work to change your OS..
why not go the whole hog and change over to Linux?
I'm inclined to agree with you, but this won't make the problems go away. A surprising number of distros seem to release new versions that can only be installed by zapping your old installation.
The Tupperware Mines of Titan
...another place you don't want to work.
Bears, Pope and so on
Margaret Hodge and others can foam at the mouth and bite the carpet, but this is simply what multinational companies do. The only ways to get a multinational to pay more tax in Britain are:
(a) charge a low enough tax rate to undercut other economies
(b) offer advantages that make it worth paying a comparatively high rate of corporation tax.
The problem with (a) is that everybody pays the lower rate, so the tax take goes down by more than the extra you get from the multinational. The problem with (b) is that it's difficult to devise benefits for a multinational like Google whose business has no real location.
Re: more like trackballs than joypads
MrDamage trackballs can get stuck due to a buildup of dust, dog/cat fur
You really should make the dog use the keyboard. The cat, of course, will prefer to use the mouse.
A female spy also admitted "it was her practice to enter foreign national phone numbers she obtained in social settings" to make sure she wasn't about to hop into bed with "shady characters"
A wise precaution. It's a well-known fact in the espionage world that shady characters are always foreign nationals, usually swarthy, with thick accents (cf Boris and Natasha).
Do we take it that this female spy would hop into bed with anyone who gave her a phone number in a social setting, just as long as he or she wasn't a foreign national?
Re: Best connector
Now I was pissed when Apple changed the connector.
What did you think of it when you sobered up?
Coming soon:* a standard laptop charger
*for very large values of soon.
Re: Standardised connector: SCART
@PeterM42: "The Froggies" it's not the sodding 70s you know, do try to be a little less xenophobic.
Quit right. He should say "cheese-eating surrender monkeys".
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- Feature Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
- Driverless car SQUADRONS to hit Britain in 2015