* Posts by Kubla Cant

1478 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

It's the FALKLANDS SYNDROME! Fukushima MELTDOWN to cause '10,000 Chernobyls' in South Atlantic

Kubla Cant
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Giveaway

This sounds like a good time to tell the Argies "We've changed our minds. You can have the Malvinas. But you have to take immediate posession."

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Forum chat is like Clarkson punching you repeatedly in the face

Kubla Cant
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Re: Good riddance, I say

...because thats the way we learnt it as children in less politically correct times...

Why does a rhyme about Wing Commander Guy Gibson's dog cause so much fuss?

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Smart meters are a ‘costly mistake’ that'll add BILLIONS to bills

Kubla Cant
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Re: More Smart meter fail?

As far as I'm aware most UK electicity supply to premises is underground, too.

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Audi TT: It's NOT a hairdresser-mobile, the dash is too flash

Kubla Cant
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Re: Shall I just get my coat?

It is a nautical term

But I'm sure its use to describe the instrument cluster in a car (and maybe similar clusters elsewhere) is of fairly long standing.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: What about HUD?

The BMW 5 Series (and other models too, no doubt) has a HUD option. It's quite expensive - over £2k IIRC.

Yesterday sombody told me about a cheap Chinese HUD you can plug into the OBD2 port. Interesting, though I suspect that this option may turn out to have a few issues.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: I just want a dumb car

The owner could update it whenever they felt the need with their choice of units from any one of a dozen suppliers.

Sadly, eleven of the dozen suppliers were to be found in pub carparks*. While living in a respectable area of London I once had two head units stolen in as many weeks. The main advantage of integrated head units is that they seem to discourage theft.

* The logic behind this trade mystifies me. Even at the time, it was nearly impossible to buy a car without a radio. The only market for stolen head units must have been people who had just had their own stolen. Most of them would probably buy a new one on insurance, so the market must have been seriously oversupplied. I suppose the economics don't register when you're funding a crack habit.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Infotainment?

I'm pleased to find that I'm not the only driver to ask my passenger to select a destination on the satnav because it's safer than trying to do it while driving. How will you do that when the screen and controls are in the instrment binnacle?

Curiously, my current car won't let anybody use the on-screen instruction manual while the car is moving, but it will let you access the interwebs, subject to a mild warning.

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Mature mainframe madness prints Mandlebrot fractal in TWELVE MINUTES

Kubla Cant
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Re: Pi in the, er, print

Indeed. The VAX had the usual integer and float types, plus BCD, which, if I remember correctly, stores two decimal digits per byte, plus zoned decimal, which is essentially ASCII, one decimal character per byte with a sign bit added to the least significant digit. Zoned decimals were much used in the DIBOL language.

I'm also reasonably sure that I remember using BCD on a 16-bit microprocessor, but I can't recall which one. There must have been some kind of support for BCD for me to have thought of using it.

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Amazon issued with licence for delivery drone madness

Kubla Cant
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Sorry you were out

We tried to deliver your parcel, but you were out. So we bombed your house instead.

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Kubla Cant
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Donkey Hotee rode a horse (Rosinante). It was San Joe Panzer who rode the donkey.

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Hello? Police? Yes, I'm a car and my idiot driver's crashed me

Kubla Cant
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Re: Old news

At the risk of incurring opprobrium, I confess it was a BMW.

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Kubla Cant
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Old news

The first car I had with this kind of feature was manufactured in 2007, and it's been present on every subsequent car. There's a SIM in a little compartment above the rear-view mirror. I believe I can initiate a call myself, but it will do it spontaneously in case of a severe crash. I have no idea how it evaluates the severity.

I'd guess that it's also used for the car's internet connection. It's not dependent on my personal phone in any way.

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Blighty's 12-sided quid to feature schoolboy's posterior

Kubla Cant
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Flame

Coin-swallowing machine

This is slightly OT, but I have to tell somebody.

I wanted to buy a 70p item from the office vending machine. I had the exact amount in my wallet. No problem with the first three 20p coins, but my 10p was repeatedly rejected. So I pushed the coin return button, and got nothing back. It seems the machine will give change, but it won't allow you to cancel a transaction if you haven't inserted enough money to buy something. I expect this would the source of a tidy profit, were it not for the cost of replacing wrecked machines. Who designs the firmware for these things?

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Aged 18-24? Don't care about voting? Got a phone? Oh dear...

Kubla Cant
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Re: Healthy democracy

...a society where all the choices are the same and there is no way to make a meaningful choice...

Mainstream political parties tailor their policies to attract as many voters as possible. So it's inevitable that those policies tend to converge. To put it another way, the lack of choice reflects a concensus.

Obviously this is very annoying if your views differ from the concensus, but it doesn't mean that there exists a majority of people who are disenfranchised by lack of choice.

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Battle for control of Earth's unconnected souls moves to SPAAAACE

Kubla Cant
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Tim Worstall wrote a few weeks ago about how mobile phones improve the lives of poor fishermen. The mobile phone has been a significant enabling technology in the developing world, and it's an example of how intermediate technologies such as land-line are skipped. The fact that we had to live through the era of dial-up modems and acoustic couplers doesn't mean that it's not more realistic to go straight to wireless.

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Kubla Cant
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"prevent the breading of mosquitos"

Breaded mosquitos are the reductio ad absurdum of the fish-finger phenomenon. The crumb coating constitutes 99% of the snack. Mosquitos should be seethed in larks' vomit, with no coating.

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Boffins build Cyborg beetles, fly them by remote control

Kubla Cant
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Do they get a return video feed? If not, piloting the beetle into a collapsed building is going to be error-prone.

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Yay! Wearables! It's the future! Uh-oh! I'm going to be sick

Kubla Cant
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Re: "Tron, Dick or Florian"

I especially liked "the chafing of your nuts". The metre made me think of Macbeth:

First Witch By the chafing of my nuts / Something wicked this way struts.

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Health & Safety is the responsibility of Connor's long-suffering girlfriend

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Trained in money-laundering

Anyone who's ever worked at a financial company will be over-familiar with the obligatory Money Laundering Training. I think I've done it seven times. Despite the promise it appears to hold out, I've yet to be approached by a dodgy geezer with money to clean. In fact none of the jobs involved any contact with members of the public or their money.

My favourite question was one which asked "In which year did the Money Laundering Regulations become law?" Fortunately, another question made an unguarded reference to "Money Laundering Regulations 2007", so I was able to ace that one, though I still can't see how knowing the year would help me as a crime-fighter.

Investment banks appear to have whole departments dedicated to devising and enforcing training on a six-monthly basis*. Experience suggests that the best strategy is to go through the training module really fast so that the answers are still in short/medium term memory when you do the quiz. Thereafter everything is forgotten.

* Oddly, there never seem to be any courses entitled How to Avoid Buying a Load of Worthless Investments and Causing the Bank to Go Bust.

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C'mon! Greece isn't really bust and it can pay its debts

Kubla Cant
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Re: There was never a need for a combined currency all over Europe

"The European laws are better than the UK laws on human rights, data protection, food standards, farming practices.

The fact that they are more preseciptive or restrictive does not necessarily make them better.

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A Brit in California moves to the Lone Star State – just swerve the TexMex grub

Kubla Cant
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Re: Of course the drivers are polite in TX

Never disparage a mans hat, wife, kids, guns, truck, religion, football team unless you are way bigger and brought a dozen friends with you

I take it from your spelling of "color" that you're American, so I don't want to be rude. But I have to say that disparagement of most of the above list would scarcely provoke a physical attack in most parts of the world. Are Texans really that violent?

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HAPPY 20th Birthday MICROSOFT BOB

Kubla Cant
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As you talk to it you will see its lips move...

When I read that it made me imagine talking to a person who mouthed everything I said, as I said it - both creepy and annoying.

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Scotland to get National ID system 'by the backdoor', campaigners mull challenge

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

Re: Why the fuss?

It's a matter of classes of citizenship.

It's certainly the case that I am identified by various primary keys, that I'm spied on by cameras all over the place, and that my progress through the world leaves a messy financial spoor. But all this is optional. I surrender my anonymity in return for social benefits. A person who chooses to could, in theory, live totally anonymously in Britain, though it would be hard work. More realistically, he can selectively avoid identification as long as he's prepared to forego the asscociated benefits.

By contrast, in a country with mandatory national databases and identity papers, if you aren't in the database you are an un-person, not a citizen.

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Storm in a K-Cup: My SHAME over the eco-monster I created, says coffee pod inventor

Kubla Cant
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Re: Bah ... philistines

An alternative to good-old fashioned pour-over with filter paper is a Swiss Gold filter. I have two cup-sized ones that were very useful until they were superseded by the espresso machine.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Aeropress

pretentiously-named froth

According to a reply in the New Scientist Last Word section, the crema contains a lot of caramelised sugars, so it adds to the flavour and aroma of espresso.

Pretentiously-named? Well, it's Italian. Unsurprisingly so are all the other names associated with this way of making coffee, because the technology comes from Italy. You might think it less pretentious to talk about "expressed coffee", or "coffee the colour of Capuchine monks' robes", but nobody will understand you.

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Kubla Cant
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Boffin

Re: Not sure why people do not just use an espresso machine instead.

heated water, forced as steam through coffee grounds

This is precisely what espresso machines don't do. Boiling water and, by implication steam, are too hot for coffee brewing. An espresso machine uses a pump to force water through the grounds at the correct temperature (91-95 C). With all but the most expensive machines, you need to wait for it to heat up the water above boiling point in order to steam milk, and cool it down again to make more espresso.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Bah ... philistines

Bodem (French press) is the only way to go.

I've never heard of a French press* but it sounds like you may be talking about a сafetière à piston.

In my opinion, if you don't want espresso or its derivatives, the very best coffee is made in a French china cafetière of the kind made by Pilivite. The only images I can find are on Ebay, so I'm guessing they aren't made any more.

* Is it something you take penicillin for?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Too good to last

Is that what we want, a future filled with crappy products, made so for the sake of recycling?

I seem to experience a tiny virtuous thrill whenever I put an empty container into the recycling bin. The worry is that this positive reinforcement will work its way back up the chain of events, to the point where I buy stuff I don't want or need purely so I can recycle the containers.

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How many Androids does it take to change a light bulb?

Kubla Cant
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Re: G4

The ceiling fitments (lumieres, in the exotic jargon of electricians) aren't spotlights or downlighters. They're pendant fixtures with lots of G4s on stalks, so replacement with GU10s is not an option.

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Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

G4

The G4 halogen and its lampholder must be the crappiest system ever devised by an incompetent. I see that it's now possible to buy LED replacements for G4 bulbs. But the problem with G4s is not the bulbs, it's the lampholders.

I used to have G4 spotlights under my kitchen cupboards. After 2-3 years I found that they no longer worked, even with new bulbs, presumably because the contacts in the lampholders had corroded. Fortunately, new G4 spotlights are very cheap, but it's a pain in the neck to have to keep screwing new ones to the cupboard, so I replaced them with LED tape.

This isn't a solution for the ceiling lights that contain multiple G4s, only half of them working. Insert a new bulb, and it still doesn't work. Wiggle the new bulb around, and it works intermittently. So now I have to replace the entire light.

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Privacy? What privacy? EU's draft law on your data is useless, say digital rights orgs

Kubla Cant
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Germany has suggested that consent given today should cover future uses of one's private data for “scientific” purposes

Sounds unpleasantly reminiscent of Josef Mengele.

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$250K: That's what Lenovo earned to RAT YOU OUT with Superfish

Kubla Cant
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Re: Just goes to show....

But these days consumer PC/Laptops etc you don't even have that option; You only get the OEM's rebuild partition.

I can understand that distributing installation media would increase costs, but why don't they provide an ISO image so you can create your own?

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: El Reg eggs Benedict

Kubla Cant
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Griddled muffins?

Looks great, though I agree with the commentards who think it would be better without avocado, cayenne and vinegar.

I'm intrigued that you chose to cook the muffins on a griddle. The closest thing to this I've ever heard of is oven-bottom muffins, but I don't think they're turned over, and their appearance suggests that they're mainly cooked by oven heat. I plan to try making griddled bread when I have the time.

I'm reasonably sure that the so-called English muffin didn't exist in England until about 30 years ago, when it started to appear in supermarkets. The fact that it's normally covered in cornmeal suggests foreign origins. It used to be nearly impossible to buy cornmeal, even in London - you had to find a shop that carried imported American foods for expatriates. I don't think anyone knew that it was the same as polenta.

Admittedly "muffin" is a fairly ambiguous name. Britain seems to have an endless regional variety of names for small cakes of bread (bap, barm cake, plain teacake...).

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: says:

a bit of fresh spinach

Spinach makes it into eggs Florentine, doesn't it?

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I, ROBOT ~ YOU, MORON. How else will automated news work?

Kubla Cant
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Thumb Up

Re: Robo-penpushers of the world unit

Upvoted. Everyone ought to read The Tin Men for robotics and academic infighting, and Towards the End of the Morning for journalism.

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TalkTalk 'fesses up to MEGA data breach

Kubla Cant
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...the sort code and account number. Information that was always on any cheque I wrote anyway...

In the days when payments were mostly made by cheque, it was far less easy to exploit knowledge of these details, not least because most bank account transactions involved a written instrument. These days most transactions are "electronic" and the total volume of transactions is greater. The worst thing is that it's now difficult to isolate a bank account from the world of instant transactions and pay-by-bonk.

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Microsoft man: Internet Explorer had to go because it's garbage

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Re: Updates is all that matters...

This is what the web application looks like from the inside of various "enterprise customers" I've worked for.

Back in the dawn of prehistory, several mission-critical requirements were coded as intranet web applications, IE6 was the dominant browser at the time, so everything was written to run on IE6.

In the intervening centuries, the corporate standard browser has been updated to IE7 and the legacy applications have been fixed, but that was such a colossal effort that nobody wants to do it again. In the meantime, lots more important web applications have been written, but they've all been born into a world of prehistoric IE versions, so nobody really knows if they can be updated.

IT professionals within the company all use Firefox or Chrome (they generally have the local admin rights necessary to install them), but development continues to target old IE because that's the standard desktop build. New applications are tested on all browsers, and great unhappiness is caused by how much faster and better-looking they are, even on the latest IE version.

There's a plan to upgrade all the desktops to a more recent IE, but this will involve fixing all the legacy applications. Apart from the expense, this is a big risk, because the people who built them have gone to a better world and the documentation is either fat and uninformative or non-existent.

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MELTDOWN: Samsung, Sony not-so-smart TVs go titsup for TWO days

Kubla Cant
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Re: TV / DVR etc. menu systems

Agreed! The new iPlayer UI is especially bad.

I suspect that many of the problems are a result of developing and testing in environments that are much faster and more responsive than the TV at home. In the case of my Samsung, the response to the remote is sluggish, and a UI like iPlayer that seems to load a complete new page with every key press is barely usable.

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Britain needs more tech immigrants, quango tells UK.gov

Kubla Cant
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in an employer's eyes - on the very day that you turn forty your skills become obsolete

Not in my experience. Admittedly, the skills I had at age 40 are mostly obsolete today. Most of the skills I use were acquired in the past 10 years, some in the past year, and there are a few where I'm still reading the book. You have to keep learning.

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C’mon Lenovo. Superfish hooked, but Pokki Start Menu still roaming free

Kubla Cant
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Monopolies

@Dogged: I see your point. The distinction between a monopoly and exploitation of a monopoly didn't occur to me, but your explanation makes it clear.

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Kubla Cant
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there's nothing illegal about a monopoly

Eh? I don't know where you're posting from @dogged, but most countries have anti-monopoly laws. It may not be the case that all monopolies are illegal, but the majority are.

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'Utterly unusable' MS Word dumped by SciFi author Charles Stross

Kubla Cant
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Re: I admit, I am Word Processor inept.

Styles are an excellent concept. One set of rules to, er, rule them all. The trouble is that few users of Word (or, I suspect Libre) get it. I've given up trying to explain that there is an important difference between "format this paragraph so it looks pretty much like all the others" and "apply the same format to all the paragraphs". In consequence, most word-processed documents contain a format zoo.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: I like MS Word...

That hardly justifies statements that Word is "utterly unusable" or the general attacks on it as rubbish

Which is not to say that such statements and attacks are unjustifiable.

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Cannonbridge sells us a dummy – great premise, crap ending

Kubla Cant
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Childcatcher

Faux Victoriana

Sounds a bit like The Quincunx by Charles Palliser, another faux Victorian novel.

I got so engrossed in this that I read it all night in the expectation of a solution at the end. At 5am I gave up with 200 pages to go (it's about 800 pages long). When I recovered I read through to the finish, at which point my reaction was along the lines of "Eh?". A great read, but one that I've never felt the urge to repeat.

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Want a MEEELLION-year data storage? Use DNA of course

Kubla Cant
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I'm afraid we've lost your data. Yes, we had a backup, but it evolved legs and ran away.

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Evil CSS injection bug warning: Don't let hackers cross paths with your website

Kubla Cant
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The route of the problem would seem to be the browser is way too lenient with parsing css and will pull definitions out of any old junk.

You shouldn't rely on browsers for security. The problem is that the server hasn't parsed the request URL properly. I just seems to have scanned it from the left until it found something that looks like the script name and assumed that anything after is a querystring. I can't believe many servers do this.

BTW, the expression is "root of the problem". The analogy is to plants, not navigation.

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HAWKING ALERT: Leave planet Earth, find a new home. Stupid humans

Kubla Cant
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Re: LOOSE != LOSE

This is so common that I wonder if it's a losing battle (or should that be a loosing battle?)

A few years ago the street furniture in my area was plastered with posters saying "Loose weight now - ask me how". My response was "No thanks, I have plenty of loose weight already".

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(Re)touching on a quarter-century of Adobe Photoshop

Kubla Cant
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Re: How to freeze animations?

Fair point, Mr Dabbs.

I've installed "Toggle animated GIFs" in Firefox. "Superstop" looks like it stops rather more than I want.

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Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

How to freeze animations?

Irrelevant question prompted by the animated image at the top of the article (repeated inline and in a sidebar). Does anyone know a way to turn off image animation? I'm blocking the image with ABP, but it would be better to be able to say "stop twitching".

Steve Caplin's Stella Artois ad is amusing for the first 30 seconds. Thereafter, it's annoying. The sidebar is especially annoying because it's in the periphery od my field of vision while I'm trying to read. Peripheral vision is sensitised to movement, so every time the damn thing changes my visual cortex raises a little alarm.

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Jaguar F-Type: A beautiful British thoroughbred

Kubla Cant
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Re: Paint Contract

It's the same story with the XF Sportbreak, and presumably its saloon siblings. British Racing Green paint costs extra. Why? Despite the name, it's just green paint. It doesn't actually make your car go faster.

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