* Posts by Kubla Cant

1468 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Vint Cerf: Everything we do will be ERASED! You can't even find last 2 times I said this

Kubla Cant
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Digital vs. analogue?

I can see the problems that arise from the volatile nature of digital records. It's much easier to lose or destroy than paper. But on the other hand it's much easier to duplicate, so the net attrition may be the same or less.

What surprises me is the suggestion that the ability to read old digital data may be lost in the future. Is there any evidence that this happens? If I dig out a 40-year-old CP/M floppy, will it be impossible to read (in the unlikely event that there's anything on it worth reading)? The effort and ingenuity that go into reading historical material like the Dead Sea scrolls and carbonised documents from Herculaneum suggest not.

It's a bit like the distinction between digital and analogue computers. Reading ancient digital information is presumably a matter of emulating the obsolete technology; a tricky but quantifiable problem. Ancient analogue information presents much greater challenges.

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ATTENTION SETI scientists! It's TOO LATE: ALIENS will ATTACK in 2049

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Stellar Movement

@Jade the location they expected Gliese 581 to be sitting at in 20 light years

20 light years is a measure of distance, not time. You mean "in 20 years".

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NERDS KICK PUPPY 'bot in brutal attack

Kubla Cant
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Oh God, it can do stairs!

I was wondering if it can descend stairs as well as climb them. Some dogs are reluctant to go down staircases, and I believe horses can't.

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Now Samsung's spying smart TVs insert ADS in YOUR OWN movies

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: more advertising

Going back to... the first television show?

The first television show was a pre-war BBC broadcast from Ally Pally, so the answer is 'No'. It wouldn't have included advertising.

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TOTAL DARKNESS lasted 550 MILLION years until the first STARS LIT UP

Kubla Cant
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Re: It's all wrong anyway

I'm sure I read somewhere that the stars only took four days.

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Remote control table lamps - any suggestions?

Kubla Cant
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Thanks @masonbrown, but both these seem to be US sites, and I'm in the UK (hence the reference to 13A sockets).

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Kubla Cant
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Remote control table lamps - any suggestions?

I keep reading about remote control lighting, but I never seem to see a solution to what I imagine must be a common requirement.

Most rooms in my house are illuminated by a combination of a central ceiling light and several table lamps. For most purposes, the table lamps provide the better lighting scheme, so it's normal to enter a room, switch on the ceiling light, go round turning on the table lamps, then switch off the ceiling light. There are a couple of rooms where I've installed a 5A lighting circuit controlled by the wall switch at the door. This is an excellent arrangement, but one major rewire per house is more than enough, so I can't replicate it in other rooms.

Enter wireless lighting control. What I'm looking for is a wall-switch transmitter that can be fitted in the switch box, and a set of receivers that will fit between the 13A socket and a table lamp. Ideally these would replace the 13A plug top - fitting a receiver into the lampholder is a less satisfactory solution. Obviously there must be some kind of pairing so that the switch doesn't control every lamp in the house.

What I'm not looking for includes the following. Multi-colour, flashing, or other novelty lighting, which I reserve for the Christmas tree. Any kind of TV-style remote control - the wall switch is the place to control the lighting, and I have too many remotes already. The ability to switch on lamps selectively or to dim lamps.

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'Boutique' ISPs: Snub the Big 4 AND get great service

Kubla Cant
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WiFi Hotspots

I guess I've been lucky: none of the ISPs I've used has been bad enough to compare unfavourably.

Last time around I chose BT because the agreement includes access to a large number of BT and FON WiFi hotspots. I suspect this is a feature that boutique ISPs find it hard to match. When I switched from Zen I told them this was the reason, and they said that they were working on a scheme where at some time in the future, in agreement with some hotspot provider, they'd probably be able to provide somthing....

If anyone knows of a non-BT ISP that can provide decent roaming WiFi, I'd be glad to hear about it.

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Chunky Swedish ice maiden: Volvo XC60 D4 Manual EE Lux Nav

Kubla Cant
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Re: Safety??

Automatic lights? Rain sensitive wipers? If you can't tell it's dark or wet you shouldn't be relying on the car to tell you: you should walk.

Automatic timing? If you can't tell when the engine's backfiring, you should walk. Automatic choke? If you can't tell when the engine's cold you should walk. Self-cancelling indicators? If you can't tell when you've turned the corner ....

It's not just cars. The tendency with all machines is to automate functions that start out manual. Personally, I like the automatic lights, though sometimes I disagree with their judgement.

Automatic wipers are actually a safety feature when there's little or no rain falling, but a passing lorry throws up a shower of water and mud and totally obscures the windscreen. They're also a logical development: my first car had single-speed wipers, subsequent cars had two-speed, intermittent with a constant delay, then intermittent with a continuously-variable delay. Taking the meatware component out of the loop makes sense.

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Ex Machina – a smart, suspenseful satire of our technology gods

Kubla Cant
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Re: "The Machine"

really gets my goat when I hear the voice-over at the end of the trailer saying "Ex Mack in a"

I hope I'm not missing the point of some exquisitely honed irony, but can you let us know how you think ex machina should be pronounced? "Ex Mack in a" may not be International Phonetic Alphabet, but it seems a reasonable approximation, unless you favour Edwardian Latin pronunciation.

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Welcome to Spartan, Microsoft's persuasive argument for... Chrome

Kubla Cant
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Facepalm

"having to build for not one but two Microsoft browsers"

No, no, no no, no!

It's 2015. You shouldn't have to build for anyone's browser. That's what standards are for.

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Is it humanly possible to watch Gigli and Battlefield Earth back-to-back?

Kubla Cant
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Re: I always

Everybody watched Girl on a Motorcycle to see (young) Marianne Faithfull fake an orgasm while riding up the motorway. There must have been something else in it, but that's all I remember.

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Top US privacy bod: EU should STOP appeasing whiny consumers

Kubla Cant
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Re: You can’t just say 'it’s national security – go away',” he said.

Who is this Baroness MILF?

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UK Scouts database 'flaws' raise concerns

Kubla Cant
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Re: UK Scout Database

"no a happy parent"

What does that mean?

Does it mean that you have very little command of the English language?

"no a happy parent" is clearly an echo of "no a happy Scouter" in the original post. You should read the whole thread before replying.

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Pull up the Windows 10 duvet and pretend Win8 and Vista were BAD DREAMS

Kubla Cant
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Re: Not too sure

OK, so I decided I'd better look at PowerShell. The introduction I was reading said you could enter ls for a directory listing. I was quite impressed to find that Unix commands are included. So I entered the directory command I use most.

ls -ltr

Get-ChildItem : A parameter cannot be found that matches parameter name 'ltr'.

At line:1 char:4

+ ls -ltr

+ ~~~~

+ CategoryInfo : InvalidArgument: (:) [Get-ChildItem], ParameterBindingException

+ FullyQualifiedErrorId : NamedParameterNotFound,Microsoft.PowerShell.Commands.GetChildItemCommand

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Not too sure

@big_D Did you look at using PowerShell to run commands and automate the process?

Yes, but having expended time in the past on learning the two previous attempts at a Windows command interface, and with the client breathing down my neck for instant results, I felt I couldn't afford the time for yet another. Why couldn't they implement a standard scripting language? There are plenty to choose from.

TBH, Windows servers aren't really my area of expertise, and it was supposed to be a development job, not server migration. I suspect I was only there because I have background knowledge of the legacy applications running on the servers.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Not too sure

No more windows except for some of the servers, lovely....

I've never really understood why a server O/S needs Windows. I recently completed a six-month sentence contract where I had to migrate legacy applications from Windows 2003 to 2008. There were about ten servers, so it amounted to a lot of very repetitive point-and-clicking while following checklists. The IIS management interface is especially heavy going (not to mention gratuitously different between 2003 and 2008).

It's not that I'm a command-line machismotist, but the use of a Windows UI to manage servers makes it difficult to guarantee that the same thing is done everywhere. Microsoft never seem to have grasped this point. Windows was launched with a crap command interface inherited from MS-DOS, which they've tried to enhance with obscure extensions.

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Windows 10: The Microsoft rule-o-three holds, THIS time it's looking DECENT

Kubla Cant
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Re: Voice?

A friend has just acquired a phone with Cortana. It's actually very impressive, but annoyingly it refuses to work without an internet connection. OK on a desktop PC, but a pain in the neck on a phone, tablet or laptop.

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Latest menace to internet economy: Gators EATING all the PUSSIES

Kubla Cant
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Why would a croc leaves two cat carcasses?

I'm not an expert, but I think crocodiles/alligators like their food well-rotted. When they pull animals into the water they stash them in a hole under the bank until they're nice and squishy.

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Amazon's tax deal in Luxembourg BROKE the LAW, says EU

Kubla Cant
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Luxembourg

it must just be that Luxembourg doesn't need to collect many taxes, because their government are just so damned efficient

Amazon may not pay much tax, but with a population of about 500,000 it probably amounts to about €20,000 per Luxembugger. No wonder they were quick to agree.

When there was all the row about Junker, I thought it was just because he was a federalist. But you have to wonder at how much useful experience he got from running a place the size of a smallish city where the main industry is tax dodging.

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: 1.5 MILLION SCOVILLE masala omelette

Kubla Cant
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Re: Lhassi/Lassi

Unfortunately most yoghurts are low-fat. Even if your lassi is made with full-fat yoghurt, it probably won't have much more fat than the equivalent quantity of milk.

Interesting to read about the noxious vapours released when this omelette was cooking. Although I only use fairly mild chillies I've found that even gentle frying causes them to release a vapour that causes discomfort, so I've taken to adding them at the end.

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Users shun UK.gov flagship digital service

Kubla Cant
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Re: Please write out 100 times.

Yes but it was the first image they could find on Google.

Not least among the horrors of the Reg redesign is the replacement of a small collection of, admittedly rather boring, images with a larger range of bigger, more intrusive, and largely irrelevant ones.

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Stuck on a coding problem – should you Bing it?

Kubla Cant
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Unkind thought

To adapt the famous words of Jamie Zawinski:

You have a coding problem.

You decide to Bing it.

Now you have two problems.

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YES, we need TWO MEELLION ORACLE licences - DEFRA

Kubla Cant
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@AC

"You know MySQL is free right?"

If your time has no value.

This is an idiotic statement. I've worked fairly extensively with Oracle and MySQL*. Oracle is certainly the more feature-rich, but for many applications there is little or no time penalty for using MySQL. The advantage may even be the other way, as you don't need the army of DBAs that seem to be part of every Oracle installation.

It appears, however, that this row isn't about Oracle database, but Oracle applications, so MySQL isn't an alternative.

* and Sybase and SQL Server and PostgreSQL (and Rdb, for those who remember it)

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Ghosts of Christmas Past: The long-ago geek gifts that made us what we are

Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Jetex

I had a Jetex model plane, but I don't recall many successful flights.

A few years later, as evil teenagers, we discovered that Jetex fuse was very useful for delayed ignition of the weedkiller and sugar in home-made bombs.

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Kubla Cant
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Building set

One Christmas I was given a Brickplayer set.

As the Wikipedia article says: "The sets comprised baseboards, terracotta bricks and lintels, plastic door and window frames, card doors and roofing. The bricks were about 1 inch long in scale proportion to regular house bricks. Building plans were accurate architect's blue prints."

Using it was just as much fun as being a real bricklayer. I think I only built a bus shelter before becoming bored.

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Marriott: The TRUTH about personal Wi-Fi hotel jam bid

Kubla Cant
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Marriott Gaylord Opryland

the agency fined the Marriott Gaylord Opryland

The name alone deserves a massive fine.

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HOLD IT! Last minute gifts for one's nerd minions

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

They pay you for that 10% though, right? Happy days!

It sounds like a good deal, I agree. But the 10% consists entirely of frustration time, so it's not such a good deal. Also, it means that everything I do takes longer, but complaining about the equipment is such a feeble tactic.

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Kubla Cant
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an SSD can help your nerds work faster

SSD? Only in my dreams. I'm currently sitting in front of a machine that's expected to run Win7, Outlook, SQL Server, Weblogic and 2+ copies of Eclipse with 4GB of memory. I'd love to work faster, but I spend about 10% of my (quite expensive) time watching windows painfully redraw, or staring at the hourglass while a storm of page faults thrashes the disk.

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Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde: Fun, but not for all

Kubla Cant
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Re: odd choices

Without the proper gearbox it's more of a imposter than a sport car.

I drove manual sports cars for years (and one of the best was my Alfa Bertone GTV). But I'm not sure that automatic transmission disqualifies this one.

Once upon a time cars were equipped with a manual advance-retard control. When it became clear that a machine could manage the ignition timing more reliably and safely I don't suppose anybody regretted the change. A modern automatic gearbox can change gear faster than the driver can, and it can manage more gears - does anybody really want to stick-shift through 8 or more ratios?

I don't think it will be long before manual gearshifts are as indicative of performance as fake air vents and external exhaust pipes.

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FURY erupts on streets of Brussels over greedy USA's data-slurping appetite

Kubla Cant
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Megaphone

Switched-on Belgians

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Brussels on Friday to express anger about secret trade talks

Not to say that this isn't an important issue, but I don't think you'd get much of a turn-out for a demo about trade talks in Britain. What's more, it seems to have been quite a demo: the picture at the head of the article appears to show riot police and tear gas. Those Belgians must be politically switched-on to an impressive degree.

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Careful - your helmet might get squashed by a VOLVO

Kubla Cant
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Flame

Re: What a stupid fucking idea....

@Phil O'Sophical

It would also help if cars would stay out of ASLs,

and if cyclists would stay IN them. One rule for them, one rule for everyone else, as always.

ASLs and cycle lanes are intended to protect a vulnerable class of road user from motor vehicles. They aren't a corral for cyclists.

a two-wheeled dickhead cycling along in the car lane at 10MPH

What excatly is "the car lane"? I don't recall having seen a part of the carriageway that's reserved for cars. Is it just reserved for your car, Phil O'Sophical? I think it's pretty clear which vehicle is being driven by the dickhead.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: What a stupid fucking idea....

Here's a better idea. GET SOME FUCKING LIGHTS and stop jumping red lights and weaving in and out of traffic.

The odd thing is that many motorists seem to have difficulty seeing cyclists who do have lights, even though they can spot hundreds without lights.

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BONK for CASH in Brixton and help us EAT the RICH

Kubla Cant
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Have no truck with this

There's a set of laws called the Truck Acts, introduced between 1725 and 1940, that outlawed the practice where employers would pay wages in tokens that could only be spent in their own (overpriced) shops. It's not directly comparable, but if I lived in Brixton and somebody tried to pass some B£ on me, I'd feel like I was being enrolled on some kind of truck system.

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Microsoft kills its Euro pane in the a**: The 'would you prefer Chrome?' window

Kubla Cant
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The headline for this item is missing an asterisk in 'a**' of course.

I thought it was about donkeys.

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Boggling bum babe Kim fails to 'break the internet' – Robin Williams instead tops Google charts

Kubla Cant
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Windows

Conchita Wurst

I've eaten bratwurst, weisswurst, leberwurst, and even, in an unwise lapse, currywurst. But I've never seen Conchitawurst. It sounds like a sort of German chorizo.

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Kubla Cant
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You were lucky. I thought they were talking about Kim Jong Il.

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'Turn to nuclear power to save planetary ecology from renewable BLIGHT'

Kubla Cant
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Re: "Sellafield is going to cost way more than the current £70 Billion alloted "

I should think Sellafield is a poor example for the decommissioning cost of generating plants, anyway. It's significantly older than most nuclear power stations, and in its early days it was called Windscale Plutonium Factory (!) before they decided to sanitise the name.

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European Commish asks for rivals' moans about Booking.com

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: Am I alone

Am I alone in that I make a practice of checking several booking sites when I'm looking for a hotel? I'm slightly surprised to learn that booking.com is dominant, because I've rarely found their offer the most attractive.

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Independent inquiry into British air-traffic-control IT nightmare

Kubla Cant
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Vince Cable

Vince Cable yesterday accused NATS of "skimping on large scale investment" and running "ancient computer systems, which then crash."

Does Vince Cable ever do anything except whinge? His public persona seems to have been modeled on the Old Gits.

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FATTIES: Boffins say their miracle sunshine skin cream 'prevents obesity'

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Re: Miracle!

a bodybuilding article I once read

Bodybuilders can read?

(please check the icon before coming round to beat me up)

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Did rock-hard aliens turn young Earth MOIST? New probe data emerges

Kubla Cant
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Re: Water on Earth is ELEMENTAL, my dear Watson !

I only looked at the landing page of your site, but it was enough to suggest that you've discovered the HTML equivalent of green ink.

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Boffins: We have found a way to unlock the MYSTERIES OF SHEEP from old parchments

Kubla Cant
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Re: And for an encore

+1 for the joke, but I think historic ink was more likely made from iron and oak galls than squid.

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Kubla Cant
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Zzzz...

A great idea.

But am I the only one to feel that reading the family histories of sheep would have a similar effect to counting the sheep? Even the short paragraph about Swaledales and Scottish Blackface is venturing into the "more than you ever wanted to know about sheep" zone.

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The Great Unwatched: BBC hails glorious digital future for Three

Kubla Cant
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Presumably a +1 channel is cheap, as there's no additional editorial cost. The programs on BBC3 may look like they cost nothing, but it's still the more expensive option.

I don't watch commercial channels much because I find it annoying when programmes are interrupted for ads. I was horrified to discover that BBC3 interrupts films with non-ad breaks in which some witless totty recites "news" about "celebrities". The sooner they close it the better.

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Égalité, Fraternité - Oui, peut-etre. Liberté? NON, French speedcam Facebookers told

Kubla Cant
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One interesting side-effect of the ETA shown on the satnav is that you can see exactly what difference your speed makes. On long motorway journeys the time taken is a fairly direct function of speed, but elsewhere it seems that driving as fast as I dare makes so little difference that it's not worthwhile.

There seem to be more and more average-speed cameras, and these seem ro be much more effective than the old fixed cameras. Sometimes I wonder, when I'm sitting in a tailback on the A14, whether I'd be entitled, or even obligated, to complete my journey at 150 mph in order to achieve the required average.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Hazard

in the UK, disguising the things was made illegal over a decade ago

It didn't really work. I think the law says they have to be yellow, but fails to specify what kind of yellow. The small, presumably digital, cameras that are replacing the big square boxes all seem to be painted a dull buff colour.

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Sacre block! French publishers to sue Adblock maker – report

Kubla Cant
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Viewing ads is the price you pay

So here are a few techniques to pay your way:

1. Install an ad-blocker that saves all the ads, instead of displaying them, so you can view them later when you have lots of free time. The trouble with this is that it may fill your disk before you get round to viewing.

2. Set up a service where people with lots of free time and not much money get paid for looking at other people's ads. The ad-blocker can re-route all your ads to this service. Not very PC, and it costs.

3. Adopt the same solution as for other mindless repetitive tasks: get a computer to do it for you. This is my favourite. If the advertisers complain that I'm not viewing their ads, I can honestly assure them that my computer has examined every byte in far more detail than I would be able to manage.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Money speaks, as usual

Anyone know of a competing Ad Blocker?

Try Privoxy. An ad-blocking proxy server is a bit more fiddly to install than ABP, but it blocks ads everywhere, including Chrome, IE, email etc. You can also set up a single proxy server for your entire network, so ads don't even get across the threshold.

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NASA prods sleeping New Horizons spacecraft: Wakey, wakey, Pluto's calling

Kubla Cant
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A stunningly impressive mission.

But am I alone in finding the name "New Horizon" slightly naff? Also inappropriate, as the one thing you don't see much of in deep space is the horizon.

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