* Posts by Kubla Cant

1563 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Oh, shoppin’ HELL: I’m in the supermarket of the DAMNED

Kubla Cant
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Tesco automated checkouts have an "own bags" button at the start. A nice idea that discourages the use of one-trip plastic carriers.

Unfortunately, nobody seems to have thought this through. When you put your hessian bags-for-life in the bagging area, the till says "Please wait while we verify your bags" and blocks until the harrassed assistant notices your flashing light and comes over to "verify". If you're in a hurry it's best not to be ecologically-minded.

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Kubla Cant
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Devil

B&Q

The automated tills at B&Q are voiced by the most annoying woman in the world.

To start with, her voice has a horrible, naggy timbre, but they've made it far worse by setting the timing so that she nags you to do something just when you're about to do it anyway. As you lift an item up to the scanner, she says "Please scan an item...", if you pause for a second after scanning, quick as a flash she's in with "Place the item in the bagging area".

The one thing that impresses me in B&Q is that the checkouts appear to have a scale that can weigh anything from a plastic catch to 50kg of sand.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: I just go to the tills

lick your fingers. You'll get enough traction to open the bags.

There's a simpler and more hygienic solution to the thin-carrier-bag problem. Hold the bag with one hand at the centre of the top edge (i.e. between the handles) and the other on one of the side edges. Stretch the top. This causes the corener of the pleat in the side of the bag to stick up above the top edge. Pulling on this corner while holding on to the body of the bag will open it.

It sounds incredibly complicated, but that's just the way I tell it.

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Your servers are underwater? Chill OUT, baby – liquid's cool

Kubla Cant
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And at the other end of the scale

I recall reading an article about five years ago, on an overclocking site, where somebody immersed the electronics of his PC in a tank of Mazola or something. Workable but messy.

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Large Hadron Collider gives young ALICE a black-hole ray gun

Kubla Cant
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Re: Famous Last Words

There are always a few parts left over.

Especially if you buy your LHCs from Ikea.

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Sysadmins rebel over GUI-free install for Windows Server 2016

Kubla Cant
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Why Powershell?

For the first 30 years or so, Microsoft refused to accept that their operating systems would be better for having a decent scripting and command-line language. Instead they made half-hearted updates to the brain-dead MS-DOS batch language.

Meanwhile, 99% of non-Microsoft operating systems* offered the same family of scripting languages. They aren't perfect, but they are powerful enough to do pretty much any job you want, and they work in much the same way everywhere.

So when Microsoft come along and say they have this great new Powershell thing that can be used for scripting on Windows, I'm afraid my reaction is "Do I have to learn this? Why?"

* made-up statistic

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Small business server community?

Yeah, well, I thought SMB was Server Message Block protocol, which made the whole article rather confusing.

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Couple sues estate agent who sold them her mum's snake-infested house

Kubla Cant
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Re: Inspections dont work in the UK

Since when have uPVC door and window frames been superior to oak?

Precisely. And not just oak. The softwood sash windows in my house are between 200 and 250 years old. They've obviously had some repair and maintenance during that time, but they're basically original.

I wouldn't want to ruin my house with chavvy uPVC windows, and I'm not allowed to anyway. But I find it's an amusing gambit to say to the salesmen "My wooden windows are 200 years old. How long will you guarantee your plastic ones for?"

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Windows 10 upgrade ADWARE forces its way on to Windows 7 and 8.1

Kubla Cant
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Re: I'm confused

@Belardi Uh, only crappy 8bit computers or that very crappy MS-DOS had 8.3 File names.

The 16-bit PDP-11 operating systems RSTS/E, RT-11 and RSX-11 all used even shorter (6.3) filenames. So, IIRC, did the DEC-10 and DEC-20 mainframes. They may be old, but in no sense were they either crappy or 8-bit.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: I'm confused

Yeah it kinda figures that even the Church can't work out what the dates are...

To be fair, the dates weren't worked out until five centuries after the putative event, so it's not a bad guess. Anno Domini was invented by Dionysius Exiguus (Little Dennis) in 525 AD.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: I'm confused

How could Jesus Christ have been born in 6 BC, that is in year 6 Before Christ??

The original post said he was born in 6 BCE. BCE is the politically correct religion-neutral version of BC. It stands for Before Common Era.

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The rare metals debate: Only trace elements of sanity found

Kubla Cant
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Forth Bridge

Until about ten years ago, painting the Forth Bridge was a handy metaphor for a never-ending task*. The idea seemed to be that the bridge was so massive that they no sooner finished than they had to start again. But if you put yourself in the position of an employer with a big maintenance requirement, you realise that the correct number of people to hire is exactly the number who can work on it continuously. Anything more is wasteful.

What's this got to do with mineral reserves? The No-Breakfast doomsayers need to perform a similar thought inversion. If they did, they would realise that the economical amount of any resource is the smallest you can safely get away with. It applies to minerals, components for factories, stocks in supermarkets and painters.

* I understand they've now developed a paint that lasts so long that continuous painting is no longer necessary. Where are we going to find a new metaphor?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Re investments

@Jimmy2Cows

... electricity production that we could flog to anyone and everyone in UK for a flat rate £30 a month. Forget meters and meter readings.

I don't know enough about Gen4+ nuclear plant to know whether you're right or wrong. I'm sure the general point about green energy investment being misdirected is correct, though.

The disconcerting thing is the way your statement is almost exactly the same as the promise that was made when the first Magnox reactors were planned. "Electricity so cheap that it won't be worth the cost of billing." To judge from my electricity bill, it doesn't seem to have happened.

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Taming the Thames – The place that plugged London's Great Stink

Kubla Cant
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Re: Agree.

I'm also unsure that at the period in question Britain was living on "looted wealth". The height of the Empire was some way in the future. The Great Exhibition was set up to display British manufactures and exports.

Agreed. What's more, the empire was originally a trading operation, and that remained at the core of its function. That's not to claim that it was benign, nor to deny that it was at times exploitative. But there was little looting compared to other empires, such as the Spanish empire of the 16th century, the French empire of the early 19th century and the German empire of the mid 20th century.

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Maserati Ghibli S: Who cares what Joe Walsh thinks?

Kubla Cant
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Bling

Everyone raves about Maseratis. I'm sure they're great cars, but the styling does nothing for me.

From the trident badge to the elliptical clock there's a definite air of bling about the look. There's also a strange whiff of boy racer - that carbon fibre finish is available on FleaBay as a wrap, if the interior of your car is knackered enough to need it. As for the "sharky side vents ... another Maserati design cue", they look like something you might find on a 1970 Ford Capri.

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Silicon rumour-mill says Avago's next acquisition target is Broadcom

Kubla Cant
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Re: Avago has been waving its cash ...

Brilliant. I'd completely forgotten Wilfred Pickles. Though I it was "What's on the table, Mabel?", because the answer tended to be something like "Two pound eleven and sixpence, a jar of marmalade and a box of Mrs Eckaslike's butter biscuits."

I was thinking the inspiration for the name might be "Avago if yer think yer ard enough".

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There's data in your dashboard, so liberate it from Big Auto's grasp

Kubla Cant
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I recently bought an OBD2-USB cable from Amazon. It came with a software disk, but also with the statement that the software only runs in Windows XP. So now I'm searching Amazon for a time machine.

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Don't PANIC but ... UNSTOPPABLE robots IMMUNE to injury built by boffins

Kubla Cant
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Sounds like a robotic implementation of the Black Knight.

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Land Rover's return: Last orders and leather seats for Defender nerds

Kubla Cant
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Re: Madness...

There is no technology that can cure stupidity (yet), be it the driver or the pedestrian that is at fault. Drivers and pedestrians must drive and walk defensively.

Yes, drivers and pedestrians have an equal obligation to be careful. The reason that the driver, and the vehicle manufacturer, have greater obligations is that the outcome is almost invariably worse for the pedestrian. Injury to drivers as a result of collision with pedestrians is not common.

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Will Hay: Britain's bumbling star of the screen and skies

Kubla Cant
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a Buster Keaton tribute as Hay and Hulbert end up hanging off the clock face of Big Ben

It sounds like it was actually a tribute to Harold Lloyd. The famous clock face routine is in his film Safety Last.

(To confirm my recollection, I searched Google for "buster keaton clock". Oddly, the first page of results contains four images from the Harold Lloyd film, a YouTube link for the Harold Lloyd film, a Wikipedia article about the Harold Lloyd film, and five other links related to the Harold Lloyd film. The interwebs seem to think Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd were the same person.)

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NEVER MIND the B*LLOCKS Osbo peddles, deficits don't really matter

Kubla Cant
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Re: Super!

forged Bank of England £5, £10, £20, and £50 notes

I hardly like to contradict Wikipedia, but I should have thought that £10, £20, and £50 notes were so rare during the war that it would be hard to "flood" the economy with them. The average wage in 1942 was £6 a week.

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Putting your schlong into the reel-to-reel tape machine is a bad idea

Kubla Cant
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Razor blade

No mention so far of audio editing with razor blade and Sellotape?

As far as I know, the similar method of video editing on a Steenbeck machine lasted well into this century.

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Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Sing Something Simple

Never mind rats, they should have deployed Sing Something Simple in Room 101.

Even now, I can feel my life-force ebbing away as I recall that vile combination of gloopy music and Sunday evening blues.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Grease pencils and rheostats

One of my many non-study ways of filling my time at Oxford was doing light shows for balls*. For a big occasion we'd hire a van-load of kit from Strand Electric. The dimmer units were armour-plated monsters on wheels - typically about five feet long by four feet high to provide twelve 500W channels.

Then smaller dimmers using a solid-state device called a thyristor started to appear. I built a number of these, but mine always burned out. I guess I was destined for a career in software rather than hardware.

* Dances in marquees, not testicle lighting.

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GDS to handle Govt payments? What could possibly go wrong?

Kubla Cant
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Paying people money

The Government has a multitude of platforms for paying people money.

Unfortunately, none of them seem to belong in this century. It used to be that when you sold a car the VED went with the vehicle, so it was all a neat cashless transaction. When they changed the process, they decided instead to refund the unexpired VED to the seller, and make the purchaser re-tax the car.

I received my refund the other week. In the form of a cheque - an instrument of payment that I haven't seen for years. It sat on my desk for about a week while I tried to work out when I might be near a bank. In the end I found an old paying-in slip and posted it.

Progress, eh?

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Celebrating 20 years of juicy Java. Just don’t mention Android

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

JavaScript???

Today Java is among the world’s most popular programming languages, ranking second after JavaScript

Second by what metric? Recent years have seen a boom in rich web pages and SPAs, and Node.js means server-side JavaScript is increasingly important. But I'd be astonished to learn that there's more JavaScript code in use, or that more development effort is going on in JavaScript. Or are they counting the number of CPUs JavaScript runs on?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: +1 for JVM, -1 for Java.

But the JVM really needs a new flagship language and Oracle isn't the company to make it happen.

I agree that Java's syntax shows its age, but I wouldn't expect it to be superseded soon, and not because of Oracle. The alternative JVM languages all offer syntactical features that purport to make development quicker, or perhaps safer. Even accepting that these features are as magic as their enthusiasts believe, they can't deliver enough of an improvement to justify a switch. Things like language syntax are very important when you first start to learn a language, and they can make that process pleasant or nasty. But for experienced users the differences between any fairly up-to-date languages are not enough to affect the development process much.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Facts

It was only ever niche on the web.

I used to think the same, but then I worked at two companies that made massive use of Java in web clients. One was a wide range of tier-3 trading platforms distributed as Applets, the other a massive online game, also an Applet.

I think things like the trading platforms are distributed via Java Web Start these days, and gaming is switching to Unity.

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City of birth? Why password questions are a terrible idea

Kubla Cant
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Secret questions are a hangover from the "security" procedures used by banks before the Internet.

I have to tell you that bank security questions are alive and all too predictable. DOB, who else uses the account, mother's maiden name!

Not so long ago my bank started asking questions about recent transactions and repeat payments on the account, which was probably more secure, but generally impossible to answer. They seem to have dropped that approach, presumably because so few people could answer.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Still too many failures

I wasn't born in a city, and my dad doesn't have a middle name.

My impression from completing web forms is that for Americans "city" means anything from a hamlet up.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Even worse

Ultramarine? Viridian? Charcoal? Aureolin?

But seriously, who the hell has a favourite colour past the age of six?

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Google DOG WHISTLING fails to send URLs across the room

Kubla Cant
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Re: Another airgap-proof virus vector?

running through 2 Ups systems

Data security is all well and good, but using UPS to deliver packets of data by van is going incur unacceptable latency, isn't it?

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Kubla Cant
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@Andrew Jones 2

Actually if you read the article you will find that's what it says:

Google tried dog-whistling, but found that PCs are set up for sound humans can hear, so reverted to a trilling series of notes.

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Mobiles at school could be MAKING YOUR KID MORE DUMBER

Kubla Cant
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@werdsmith

Citation?

The standard of English found on the Internet suggests your rite. But theirs a well-attested phenomenon of contextual usage. It's most noticeable in speech: children use different accents, vocabulary and syntax depending on the social context. In writing too - even the bottom quartile know that the language they use for texting is unsuitable for essays.

Bear in mind that the widespread use of phones and computers probably means that all children use written communication far more than previous generations. Paradoxically, solecisms could be the price we pay for more widespread literacy.

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A good effort, if a bit odd: Windows 10 IoT Core on Raspberry Pi 2

Kubla Cant
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The Pi needs Windows like a new Porsche needs 500 kg cement in the boot.

So does it need it or not? I once owned a 911, in the air-cooled days when the weight distribution could cause nasty surprises when cornering in the wet. One solution was to add weight in front - Porsche themselves put the battery as far forward as possible and in some cases actually added weights inside the front bumper.

The boot was, of course, in the front. 500 kg seems like it might be a bit much, though.

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Driverless cars deal DEATH to Detroit, says Barclays

Kubla Cant
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Where's my flying car?

I can't help wondering if the driverless car is going to be as endlessly deferred as the flying car. In both cases there are working prototypes and announcements that a production roll-out is just around the corner, but....

I'm just thinking of the level of ingenuity required to be a car commuter in Central London - knowledge of rat-runs and back doubles, judgement about which route is appropriate for the time of day and traffic conditions, knowing that this side road is the one to use when joining a main road because there's an upstream pedestrian crossing that causes breaks in the traffic and so on.

It's been a while since I lived in London, so last time I visited I used the satnav. I think it routed me through every major traffic hotspot it could find, and I arrived an hour late. At this rate, driverless cars will spend most of their lives stationary in traffic jams.

Navigation is the easy part of the driverless car requirement, but even that seems to need more work.

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Kubla Cant
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Detroit

a Barclays analyst reckons that points to a calamitous future for Detroit

I've never been there, but from what I read of Detroit it already has a calamitous present.

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Kubla Cant
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"No more old guys in hats holding up the flow of traffic"

I'm an old guy. I sometimes wear a hat because it can be quite draughty in my open car at 100 mph. What should I do to avoid holding up the traffic?

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Manchester car park lock hack leads to horn-blare hoo-ha

Kubla Cant
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Re: I do not think that word means what you think it means

I'm intrigued by the role of the exotically-named Autumn DePoe-Hughes in this incident. Early on in the story, she's just 'the woman who uploaded the Facebook video'. But by the end she's become a car security authority: '"Manually lock your doors or make sure you see/hear the locks lock," DePoe-Hughes advised.'

Mind how you go.

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Well YES, Silicon Valley VCs do think you're a CRETIN

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Confession

Though I have a limited grasp of economics, I read, enjoy and, I think, understand most of Tim Worstall's articles.

But I have to confess that in this case I haven't the foggiest idea what he's on about, despite that fact that the article seems to be about something related to IT, which I'm supposed to know. Should I take the trouble to find out?

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Pundits ponder perilous placement of STANDING STONES on Comet 67P

Kubla Cant
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Promises

If they were a bit closer they'd be able to read Ed Milliband's election promises on one of them.

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Milking cow shot dead by police 'while trying to escape'

Kubla Cant
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Re: "....but there was not enough room for them to do so"

Just how big a gun did they have?

Perhaps they were taking a leaf out of the Norks' book. They needed an anti-aircraft gun to kill a Defence Minister.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Gawd/ess.

They all get lead home

I think you mean "led". The Northumbrian cow in the story got lead, but it didn't get home.

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Viagra makes it HARD for malaria, bug-boffins discover

Kubla Cant
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Priapism

My initial thought was that the mosquitos' aerodynamics would be compromised by priapism. But it's the female mosquitos that fly around biting people, so I guess it works by giving them something else to do.

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Right Dabbsy my old son, you can cram this job right up your BLEEEARRGH

Kubla Cant
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Re: There are times when Starbucks is the best choice

What it's not for is identifying whose frothycapudoodah is whose

I think it probably is. Starbuck's is notable for the fact that, however many servers are behind the counter, it takes them so long to make a cup of "coffee" that you have to mill around with a mob of 20 people waiting for their drinks.

The other thing it's notable for is that nobody's job description includes clearing and cleaning the tables, so you have to eat and drink in a midden of dirty dishes and spillage.

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Messerschmitts, Sinclairs and a '50s living room: The Bubblecar Museum

Kubla Cant
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Recollections

One of the striking things about bubble cars in the 1950s was that two of them bore names familiar from wartime German planes. In the case of the Messerschmitt you could easily imagine that they'd just removed the wings and tail (assuming you were 11 years old and had only ever seen Me109s in comics). They should have produced a Stuka, too.

There was a rumour that people could get trapped in the Isetta because it had a front-opening door and no reverse gear.

I used to own an original Mini, with the pre-Hydrolastic rubber suspension. It had an 1100 engine dropped in, which didn't actually seem to make it go any faster (though repeated incompetent attempts to "tune" the SU carburettor may have been a factor). I also used to ride a James, though mine was a 250 twin.

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You're going to have stop calling people 'cold fish': THIS one is HOT-BLOODED

Kubla Cant
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Interesting article. I just wish I could stop reading the name of the fish as "oompah".

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Next-gen Freeview telly won't be another disruptive 4Ker

Kubla Cant
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It's not clear from the pictures whether the catch-up content will be accessed through the same UI as real-time broadcast. If it's just a matter of putting a BBC iPlayer button on the EPG, then I'm less than impressed. If, on the other hand, it will make it possible to avoid using the atrocious iPlayer UI, then I'll start to think about changing my TV.

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Reddit: Gonna SCRUB these TROLLS right outa my hair

Kubla Cant
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"We are unhappy with harassing behavior on Reddit; we have survey data that show our users are, too"

They needed a survey to find that out?

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Election? Pah. Here's the REAL question: Who’s the SEXIEST MP?

Kubla Cant
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"Politics is show business for ugly people" (various attributions)

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