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* Posts by Kubla Cant

1178 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Coding: 'suitable for exceptionally dull weirdos'

Kubla Cant
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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.)

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SEX CRAZED FISH keeping hapless Southamptonites awake

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

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".

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Swedish teen's sex video fine slashed: Unwilling co-star girlfriend furious

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Deploying Turing to see if we have free will

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Kubla Cant
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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.

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Snap-happy blogger babe posts catcalling blokes' mugshots online

Kubla Cant
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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.

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US parents proclaim 811 'Messiahs'

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Alas, all is vanity...

Etymology would suggest that it's Peter that means "The Rock".

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Kubla Cant
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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.

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Murdoch calls for world+dog to 'expose' Google

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

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.

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Turkish TV presenter canned for flashing too much cleavage

Kubla Cant
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Non-PPE clothing

Was it the Politics, the Philosophy or the Economics that her clothing lacked?

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Double-click? Oh how conventional of you, darling!

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Kubla Cant
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Facepalm

Re: Standards...

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.

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Assange: 'I'm fond of your work, Cumberbatch, but let's leave it at that'

Kubla Cant
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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.

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London plod plonks, er, pull request on EasyDNS

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Three BILLION people now potential nodes for the transfer of cat videos

Kubla Cant
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Re: Cats

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?

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Robot WildCat slips its leash and bounds around parking lot

Kubla Cant
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Re: OK

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.

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A14 to become UK's first internet-connected ROAD

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Samsung DENIES benchmark CHEATING, despite evidence

Kubla Cant
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Happy

Re: "What's this bear crap doing in my woods?" asked Christopher Robin

+1 for the title

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Boffins demo new holo storage using graphene oxide

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Yes, but...

I think it's a wallaby wannabe.

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'Instant translation' glasses to come online for 2020 Olympics

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

3G...4G...5G

...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.

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Yo, mall rats: Facebook and Cisco in Wi-Fi hookup to track your retail, social life

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

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?

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A £30,000, 295bhp 4G MODEM?!? Must be the Audi S3 Quattro, then

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

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.

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Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Nore wheels than seats?

I'm struggling to think of any cars with five or six wheels.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Automatic

@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.

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Kubla Cant
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WTF?

How big?

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?

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NASA's search for habitable planets maps ALIEN CLOUD-WORLD

Kubla Cant
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Re: Hugely impressive.

@RISC OS

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.

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State-backed hackers: You think you're so mysterious, but you're really not – report

Kubla Cant
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Treaty?

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

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500 MEELLION PCs still run Windows XP. How did we get here?

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Kubla Cant
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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?

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Kubla Cant
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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.

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TUPPERWARE FOUND ON MOON of Saturn

Kubla Cant
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The Tupperware Mines of Titan

...another place you don't want to work.

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Google: Thanks for the billions in revenue, UK. Here are your taxes, that's ... £11m

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Valve aiming to take the joy(sticks) out of gaming with Steam Controller

Kubla Cant
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Coat

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.

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NSA: Yes, some of our spooks DID snoop on overseas lovers

Kubla Cant
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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?

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EU move to standardise phone chargers is bad news for Apple

Kubla Cant
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Re: Best connector

Now I was pissed when Apple changed the connector.

What did you think of it when you sobered up?

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Kubla Cant
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Coming soon:* a standard laptop charger

*for very large values of soon.

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Kubla Cant
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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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Kubla Cant
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WTF?

re: 20,000,000 manufacturers

I imagine I could compile a list of about 50 mobile phone manufacturers. Assume my list is incomplete, and that there are 500. Who are you other 19,999,500?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Standardised connector

@cosymart The "car power socket" inherits its shape from its original function as a cigar lighter. The size was presumably the diameter of the fattest cigars.

I once took a job where I inherited the company car of a cigar smoker. No amount of steam cleaning could rid the interior of the vile smell. Also, the car was a clapped-out Volvo with burnt orange paintwork. The only solution was to find a new job.

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30 years on: The day a computer glitch nearly caused World War III

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

Re: "the Americans obsessive fear of communism"

hearing the Americans ranting (accurately)

That's right. Senator Joseph McCarthy was a normal, rational person. His committee did a good job getting rid of all the commies.

</irony>

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Congrats on MP3ing your music... but WHY bother? Time for my ripping yarn

Kubla Cant
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Re: grip on Linux does a nice job

feed in, wait a few mins, auto-eject, feed in next one

Anyone old enough (and stupid enough) to have backed up a Windows 3.x system to floppy disks can tell you what's wrong with this. I stopped doing this when the disk count reached 40.

The interval between "feed" and "feed in next one" is too short to fill with any useful activity, but long enough to be very boring.

I have an old 10-disk CD changer that used to live in the boot of my car. This has got me wondering whether it could feasibly be converted into a multi-ripper.

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Thorium and inefficient solar power? That's good enough for me

Kubla Cant
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Re: WTF......

You do know that oil rigs undergo frequent, and *very* expensive corrosion inspections.

True, but, on the other hand Victorian seaside piers seem to have survived - where they haven't caught fire. Perhaps we should build offshore wind turbines in wrought iron.

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Asus NV550JV 15.6in full HD notebook - the one we didn't have to send back

Kubla Cant
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Thumb Down

A woofer in a tweeter's clothing

To my mind, the whole B&O sound system+woofer thing is utterly stupid.

If I'm at home, I don't want to watch video or listen to audio on a laptop. It's too small for video and too inconvenient for music. I have dedicated appliances that do the job properly.

If I'm travelling, then I might use the laptop for entertainment. But how do I carry the stupid woofer around? Too many portables are already compromised by a brick of a power supply that makes them less portable than they at first appear. The woofer with this one is going to make a very nasty bulge in your laptop case. You could leave it at home, of course, at which point the machine becomes just another laptop with tinny speakers.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: A note to UI designers

Upvoted - you beat me to it.

Remember when it was obligatory for DVD player software to have a UI designed to look like an especially chavvy car radio? Because people are used to watching DVDs on the car radio.

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Apple Maps directs drivers INTO path of ONCOMING PLANES

Kubla Cant
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Not really the drivers' fault

I know this seems to have a lot in common with idiots driving into rivers and trucks stuck on farm tracks, but when you think about the environment of the average airport, it's not so clear-cut.

I imagine Fairbanks isn't exactly Heathrow, but if it's an international airport it's likely to be surrounded with a maze of approach roads and ramps, together with a forest of signage that guarantees information overload. Add to that the tension that frequently accompanies a drive to the airport, and you can understand people taking the wrong turn when the satnav tells them to.

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British Gas robo home remote gets itself into hot water

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Why fiddle with a thermostat?

If the thermostat is working properly it will maintain a constant temperature in the house. I get really annoyed with people who believe they can increase the speed with which something heats up by turning the thermostat up.

How of ten do you think "today, I'd like my house to be really hot"? I'd guess that most people change the thermostat setting about once a year, if that.

The author's description of his use of this app suggests that he's interacting with the timer to activate the heating when it's not yet on.

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UK's Get Safe Online? 'No one cares' - run the blockbuster ads instead

Kubla Cant
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Re: Blaming the victim?

Don't you find the pizza from your bank is expensive and stodgy?

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Austerity BITES: Greece ends extra hols for civil servants forced to use hated COMPUTERS

Kubla Cant
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Re: our Western financial institutions

@The First Dave:

I don't think the prime meridian is the dividing line when people talk about Eastern and Western countries. Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk are east of the meridian, but I don't expect much Oriental mystery in Lowestoft. My house is 1'53'' east of the line, but the people in the next village aren't noticeably more thrifty and hard-working.

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