* Posts by Kubla Cant

1239 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Spock-style gadget can SMELL my PEE! Weird gizmos of CES 2014

Kubla Cant
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I suppose this is the intransitive use of "enjoy", as found in the infuriating exhortation "Enjoy!".

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Block The Pirate Bay? Arrr, me hearties, new P2P client could sink that plan

Kubla Cant
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the sooner the NSA will be able to insert the seeds of future backdoors into it

No doubt. But I don't think the NSA or comparable organisations like GCHQ would see it in their interests to share this information with the copyright protection faction. They might all be evil in their own way, but this doesn't amount to an alignment of interest. Intelligence organisations are invariably reluctant to share.

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Italian woman stunned by exploding artichoke

Kubla Cant
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Re: Appeal.

"the poor appealed to her husband"

I assumed this was a symptom of machine translation. In Italian "la povera" means "the poor woman", but it translates literally as "the poor".

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Coca Cola slurps millions of MAC addresses

Kubla Cant
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Windows

Stevia etc

Every decade seems to have its own artificial sweetener. Stevia is the flavour of the moment, preceded by Sucralose, Aspartame, Cyclamate and Saccharine. Animal feed companies have a repertoire of other sweeteners that are presumably not certified for human consumption.

Unfortunately there is evidence that consumption of artificial sweeteners is associated with extra calorie intake and weight gain. Hence, presumably, their use in animal feed.

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Gay hero super-boffin Turing 'may have been murdered by MI5'

Kubla Cant
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In this frenzied homophobic atmosphere, all gay men were regarded as security risks

This would be about the time when John Maynard Keynes was sent to America to negotiate the post-war loan on behalf of the British government. It seems unlikely that nobody knew about Keynes' sexual orientation, so clearly the judgement was more nuanced than this implies.

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El Reg's contraptions confessional no.5: The Sinclair Sovereign

Kubla Cant
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Re: Ahh, the days of real calcluators

The first electronic calculator I used was in a council Treasurer's office. It was about the size of a cash register, and had eleven rows of eleven keys (0-9 and decimal), and the display used Nixie cold-cathode tubes. This was about five years before decimalisation, so we had to convert £sd to decimal before entering and back again to use the result. A conversion table was stored by the calculator, but I'm still surprised it was worth the effort.

In the early 70s I had a job where I spent weeks performing calculations on magazine readership statistics using a slide-rule. I tried to persuade my boss to buy an electronic calculator, but it appeared that my time was cheaper than the calculator, so all I got was the occasional loan of horrible old electro-mechanical things, still with 11x11 keyboards. The basic models would only add and subtract. The more advanced ones could multiply and divide, but the interminable gear-grinding process made you wish you hadn't bothered.

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No anon pr0n for you: BT's network-level 'smut' filters will catch proxy servers too

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Sic??

"...annonymisers [sic]," the BT spokesman said

You must have an exceptionally good ear for pronunciation. What exactly was it about the way the BT spokesman said "anonymisers" that alerted you to the fact that if he had written it down he would have spelled it incorrectly?

Or do you, perhaps, mean "wrote", rather than "said"?

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Analogue radio will CONTINUE in Blighty as Minister of Fun dodges D-Day death sentence

Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

“We think it would be great if the BBC made Radio 1 or Radio 2 DAB only!”, Paul Keenan, Bauer CEO told the Go Digital festival

It may come as a surprise to you, Mr Keenan, but BBC radio stations are run as a service to the listeners, most of whom are the people who pay for the service. They aren't there to provide leverage for your failed marketing effort.

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Excise Xmas prezzie indecision MISERY with El Reg’s gift guide²

Kubla Cant
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Am I the only one...

... who read the title "Excise Xmas prezzie indecision misery" and expected a story about somebody's gift stuck in Customs because they couldn't decide what it was?

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How Britain could have invented the iPhone: And how the Quangocracy cocked it up

Kubla Cant
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Games

games like ... interactive carpeting

Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but I have to say that "interactive carpeting" sounds like the dullest game ever. I assume that it's a computer simulation of the thrill-packed life of a carpet fitter.

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Hey Linux newbie: If you've never had a taste, try perfect Petra ... mmm, smells like Mint 16

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

PPA?

Authors who care about comprehension usually qualify abbreviations the first time they use them. So what's a PPA? OK, this is a technical site where explanation may be considered otiose. But I'm enough of a technician to earn a good living at it, I'm also a regular Linux Mint user, and I haven't a clue what a PPA is. Perhaps I haven't been paying attention.

Google is your friend, of course. But would it have cost anything to indicate which of the 2,520,000 PPA results is meant? Is it Professional Publishers Association, Prescription Pricing Division, Performance Preparation Academy, Personal Package Archive, Power purchase agreement, The Play Providers Association, PPA Awards, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, or one of the other 2,519,992?

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Heart part more art than state-of-the-art: Shine wearable activity sensor

Kubla Cant
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Nothing new

Most of the functionality seems to duplicate an application that I installed on my phone (about three years ago, so there are probably better versions available). Obviously that doesn't do swimming, but it does use GPS and records altitude change.

Also, the cost was a fraction of the price of this gadget, and I can wear a proper watch instead of a nasty plastic thing.

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Lightning strikes USB bosses: Next-gen jacks will be REVERSIBLE

Kubla Cant
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Re: @ Kubla: Where have you been? USB has always had a square connector!

I was aware that there had always been a square connector. What I didn't appreciate was that the small connectors on portable kit are also Type B. Having never seen any other devices with full-size Type B, I assumed that it was a connector specific to printers.

I know better now. Thanks.

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Kubla Cant
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my laptop has a plethora of USB2/3 connections on it

Does anyone know why there has to be a special USB connector for printers? I can understand the motivation for min and micro USB variants, but what's the driving force behind "just like USB, only square"?

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When the lights went out: My 'leccy-induced, bog floor crawling HORROR

Kubla Cant
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Re: wood chip

Why shouldn't trees be felled for power generation? We're not talking immemorial elms and Amazon rainforests, but trees that are grown as a crop. It makes as much sense to deplore the use of potatoes for food.

On my drive to work I pass fields full of trees that are clearly being grown as biomass. I don't know what species they are, but they're spindly and close-packed. As far as I know they're harvested long before they grow into big trees. It's the modern equivalent to coppicing.

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IT MELTDOWN ruins Cyber Monday for RBS, Natwest customers

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Thank goodness Alex Salmond has is going to rid us of the Royal Bank of Scotland after Scottish independence.

What? He doesn't want it?

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Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Re: Again?

I bet the RBS shareholders are seriously worried about the security of their investment. Oh, hang on....

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El Reg Contraption Confessional No.1: The Dragon 32 micro

Kubla Cant
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PDP-11

I have a PDP-11/05 (circa 1975)

How big is it? I worked on a slightly younger PDP-11/23 and it was the size of a wardrobe, with massive lead weights in the bottom (which we only discovered after carrying it upstairs). I also briefly worked on a PDP-8. That was the size of two sideboards.

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DON'T PANIC: No FM Death Date next month, minister confirms

Kubla Cant
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50% of what?

There will be no switchover until the majority of listening is digital

with the number of adults with access to a DAB digital radio up 10%

It sounds suspiciously like there's an assumption that when the number of adults with access to a DAB radio exceeds 50% that will mean that the former condition has been met. This is emphatically not the case.

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Amazon fires up worldwide Read Replicas for hosted MySQL

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

"...shifted between geophysical regions..."

Would I be correct in supposing that "geophysical regions" are the same as geographical regions, except they sound more impressive? Or are Amazon running databases in parts of the lithosphere and mantle?

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PC market: ABANDON HOPE all ye who enter here

Kubla Cant
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Inevitable

There's a long list of once-invincible companies that are now history. The technology industry is especially unforgiving. Think of Kodak and Polaroid. To some extent it even happened to IBM; they managed to survive, but they have nothing like the reach that IBM had in the third quarter of the last century.

So the same fate probably awaits Microsoft, Intel, Apple, perhaps even Google.

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'MacGyver' geezer makes 'SHOTGUN, GRENADE' from airport shop tat

Kubla Cant
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Re: why this obsession with aeroplanes?

Why do terrorists try to blow up aeroplanes? Like other criminals they seem to be more driven by vague emotional motivations than cold logic. Why do crack-heads steal car radios? In a world where the only people without one are those who've just had one stolen, I don't suppose they fetch a lot of money.

Maybe it's because the airliner is a symbol to them of western technology. Maybe it's because people already fear flying despite the fact that it's one of the safest ways to travel.

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Richard Stallman decides Emacs should go WYSIWYG

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

WYSIWYG != WYGIWYE

I'm very much not an emacs expert, but in my experience the problem is not the absence of WYSIWYG.

What You Get may well be What You See, but it's not necessarily What You Expected. For someone of my modest skills, emacs is a sort of WYGIWYG (What You Get Is What You're Given) editor.

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The latest stupid yoof craze: Taking selfies - while DRIVING

Kubla Cant
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Re: Almost

@Rob

AFAIK the law prohibits use of a mobile phone. There's no way to tell from the picture whether it was taken with a mobile phone (illegal), or whether it was a full-plate camera complete with a tripod (presumably not explicitly forbidden).

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What’s new in SQL 2014?

Kubla Cant
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Re: SQL 2014

"I didn't realise SQL was shorthand for SQL Server ;)"

It's actually shorthand for badge-engineered Sybase.

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Codd almighty! How IBM cracked System R

Kubla Cant
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Re: The fourth R

OO-programming turns your brain to mush

I'm an OO programmer myself, so I'm bound to disagree, either because you're wrong, or because my mushy brain is incapable of seeing that you're right. Mushy or not, it can identify the syntax errors in your post.

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Kubla Cant
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The fourth R

Almost all the systems I've worked on in the past 20 years have used relational databases as their back-end storage. One curious thing I've noticed is the extent to which otherwise competent, even brilliant, developers fall apart when they start to work on a database.

It's the same thing over and over. A primary key is too much trouble - let's just have a unique index. Normalisation is for anal-retentive obsessives. Why use a surrogate key when we can index several attributes? Let's just pretend that the database is a kind of flat-file storage.

This surprises me. I'm a self-taught developer with nothing more than O Level maths, but it seems obvious that getting the data design right is fairly easy and pays big dividends. My colleagues, on the other hand, who have been educated and trained to a high level in this stuff, mostly fail to get it.

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RIP Frederick Sanger: Brit bio-boffin who pioneered DNA sequencing dies

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Sanger was a truly great Briton. In view of this, and of the fact that the Sanger Centre is in Cambridgeshire, and spells its name correctly, why does the article say "in 1993 he would open a research center"?

I don't believe there have ever been any research centers [sic] near Cambridge. There used to be Build Center [sic] and Plumb Center [sic], but I'm glad to say they seem to have failed to prosper, and now have different names.

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LOOK UP! Comet ISON could EXPLODE in our skies – astronomers

Kubla Cant
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Re: I predict

"Heavy clouds and a lack of visibility in the British Isles"

We call this Winter

Summer is similar, but shorter.

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MANUAL STIMULATION: Whack me with some proper documentation

Kubla Cant
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Illiteracy

What is it with glyphs, icons, hieroglyphs etc? We've spent 3000 years developing a system for unambiguous written communication, and we're getting to the point where nearly everybody in the world can read it. But instruction leaflets and public signs increasingly consist of a set of glyphs and icons like some pre-school party game. I look forward to the law suit where the plaintiff says he couldn't understand the instructions for his chain saw because they were entirely in picture language, whereas grown-ups communicate in words.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Spot on.

Do you remember the container loads of manuals that, for instance, VMS came with?

I certainly do. Six feet of shelf space. Even more remarkably, I think I read about 60% of them.

super-friendly quips and jokes

No jokes in the VMS manuals, admittedly. But I recall one of the RSTS manuals that described the excruciating process of linking executables in such a way that the system could swap overlay segments in and out of memory. The linker in question was called the task builder, and the manual contained a full-page cartoon of a workman, with the caption "Tommy the Taskbuilder".

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Kubla Cant
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Re: spaces in credit card number

Just yesterday I fell foul of a form that objected when I entered my card expiry date as "dd/mm" (the way it's written on the card) rather than "ddmm".

Grrr!

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Coroner suggests cars should block mobile phones

Kubla Cant
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Re: Yes well... Country roads

Removing all the bends in country roads would probably cause more disruption than is justified. And it's not just the bendy roads that are a problem...

I drive to work across the fens near Peterborough. One of the roads I use is dead straight for about 8 miles, but that doesn't mean it's safe. Fenland roads float on some kind of brushwood mattress, and are continually subsiding. The surfaces are so bad that a common accident is bouncing off the road into the adjacent ditch (if you're lucky - river if you aren't).

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Tales from an expert witness: Lasers, guns and singing Santas

Kubla Cant
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Re: Does the expert witness have to get his facts right?

A fascinating article. But am I the only reader to detect a conceited "I'm a scientist, so I'm always right" attitude? The author's belief in the infallibility of his methods is strikingly similar to the policeman's belief in the infallibility of his speed gun.

A bit more humility about the fallibility of the system he works in wouldn't be amiss. His attitude to the Sally Clark case, an appalling tragedy that resulted directly from the shortcomings of the expert witness system, seems to be "Shit happens".

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Justin BIEBER ploughs cash into NaaS: NARCISSISM-as-a-Service

Kubla Cant
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Eh?

peering at selfies was infinitely more entertaining than gaping at pictures of "coffee or salad"

Who gapes at pictures of coffee or salad? Have I (yet again) I missed out on a major social craze?

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Kubla Cant
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The only word more annoying than "selfie" is "onesie".

Needless to say, it doesn't appear to mean "a selfie taken by the Queen".

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Look at how many ways we ruin your life, Redmond boasts

Kubla Cant
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Presenteeism

It's important to distinguish between the justifications for out-of-hours work.

In many circumstances people do it because it's an emergency, or out of a sense of obligation to their team. The supermarket manager who spent Christmas day shifting frozen food was probably motivated in this way. The payback for this should be that you're more valued by your colleagues and bosses.

In other cases people accept the imposition because it comes with extra pay. I once bought a (second-hand) Porsche 911 largely out of the proceeds of out-of-hours support.

The real curse is the job where everybody works extra hours every day and takes work home, and nobody manages to use up the full holiday allowance. These companies are cultivating the vice known as "presenteeism". There's ample evidence that they don't actually get any more done than humane employers.

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Will small biz get a bite of mega UK.gov IT pie? Yes: if it can pass the bulls**t sniff test

Kubla Cant
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Re: I get the impression Govt projects *never* plan for change

Taxes go up, taxes go down, new regulations for married couples, special exemptions here and there...

In most systems things like this are expected to be variable. Taxes may go up and down, they may be charged on different things and calculated in different ways, but the basic principle of taxation doesn't change. The rules change, even if the requirement to follow rules is fixed.

That's the difference between a computer system and, say, a clock. One is adaptable, the other always does the same thing.

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Oooh! My NAUGHTY SKIRT keeps riding up! Hello, INTERNET EXPLORER

Kubla Cant
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Re: Tired of hearng the same old bull muck!

I've used IE for years and years!

I don't think IE is vilified for the user experience it offers. The earlier versions, especially IE6, were a source of numerous problems for web developers and designers because they failed to adhere to HTML standards in some quite important ways. This has nothing to do with "MS bashing", unless you think that whatever Microsoft does is the de-facto standard.

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Kubla Cant
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Linux

When I was younger...

When I was younger, I used to be a clumsy, slow and awkward girl.

However, just like the story of ugly duckling, people told me that I have really matured and changed over the years. I feel confident in my abilities now, and I'm eager to show you what I can do.

Pass the sick-bag, Alice.

I suppose this is some kind of confession, and it should read:

When I was younger I was a crap browser that didn't comply with standards and I caused the proliferation of invalid HTML pages.

However, just like the story of ugly duckling, people told me that I have really matured and changed over the years. Unfortunately, it's too late. By the time I became a swan there were lots of other swans, and many people liked penguins more, so nobody cared.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: If your not Asian, your opinion on this means nothing.

If you can't spell "you're", your opinion on this means nothing.

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Your kids' chances of becoming programmers? ZERO

Kubla Cant
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Re: Old Manuals

The reference implementation of the C compiler costs £0 including full Source Code.

Exactly! I doubt that there are any current languages for which you can't get a free compiler. Many of them offer a free IDE. In the Java world, it's a battle between four or five IDEs that are either entirely free or offer a free version. I think Microsoft offer some sort of .NET freebie. If you're truly perverse and you search hard enough I bet you can even get COBOL free.

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Thought you didn't need to show ID in the UK? Wrong

Kubla Cant
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Re: I think we should become more European with this

The countries on the list with the least stringent ID requirements seem to be the places where you might want to live.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: What exactly is the problem here?

the place you have to drive through when going to France

As @bigtimehustler points out, Belgium isn't a sensible route from England to France. Actually, I thought Belgium was the place the Germans always invade on their way to France. Perhaps the frequent German presence has inured its citizens to the imposition of identity papers.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: (EU standard) photo card

I've had no problems using my paper licence to hire cars in Europe and use courtesy cars in England.

I refuse to incur the inconvenience and cost involved in getting a plastic photo card. But it's getting to the stage where I need to charge for wear and tear on my paper licence every time I'm required to show it, as I don't know how much longer it will last. The licence I paid for when I passed my test was a nice little red booklet. I don't know who thought it would be a good idea to replace it with a folded sheet of A4 paper - these things are supposed to last a lifetime.

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Aussie bloke hacks way to top of music charts with MIDI-based tunes

Kubla Cant
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Re: Makes you think....

I suppose the original value of the charts was to help record shops decide what to stock. Vinyl records consumed quite a lot of space and capital (before vinyl, shellac 78s consumed even more), so retailers would want to maximise their stock turnover by concentrating on the fast-selling titles.

It's all changed now. First of all, there's the "long tail" phenomenon where big online retailers can carry massively diverse stock, and then with the change to music downloads there's no relation between sales and stock volume, and the stock occupies negligible space.

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Big Beardie's watching: Alan Sugar robots spy on Tesco petrol queue

Kubla Cant
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I've rarely used a Tesco filling station where you didn't have to queue to pay. Which member of the queue is going to determine the targeted ads? Or will it be an average? Not much point if it is.

Can we give the system a nervous breakdown by shifting around in the queue so that it has to try to target an old geezer and a teenage woman both at the same time?

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Adobe users' purloined passwords were PATHETIC

Kubla Cant
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Re: Its the combination an idiot has on his luggage

An idiot is someone who thinks a lock on his luggage provides some kind of security.

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Facebook fans fuel FAGGOT FURY firestorm

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: This is disturbing

The word "faggot" meaning "bundle of sticks" is almost certainly derived from the Latin "fascis", which was notably used to describe the bundle of rods carried by lictors, the officials who accompanied Roman consuls. The bundle represented the right of the consul to inflict corporal punishment; when it contained an axe it represented his right to execute.

The best-known term derived from the fasces is, of course Fascism. In the flat estuaries of East Anglia, the rivers are contained by fascine banks, made of bundles of sticks that trap silt.

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Need an internet antidote? Try magic mushrooms

Kubla Cant
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Re: Boletus edulis

Probably best known to foodies by their Italian name, porcini, or their French name, ceps. Readily available dried.

Now if you'd found morels...

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