* Posts by Kubla Cant

1560 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

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

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Trained in money-laundering

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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HAPPY 20th Birthday MICROSOFT BOB

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

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

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

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

Re: Why the fuss?

It's a matter of classes of citizenship.

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

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

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

Kubla Cant
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Re: Bah ... philistines

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

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Aeropress

pretentiously-named froth

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

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

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Kubla Cant
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Boffin

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

heated water, forced as steam through coffee grounds

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

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Bah ... philistines

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

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

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

* Is it something you take penicillin for?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Too good to last

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

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

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

Kubla Cant
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Re: G4

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

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Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

G4

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

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

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

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

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

Sounds unpleasantly reminiscent of Josef Mengele.

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

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

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

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

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Post-pub nosh neckfiller: El Reg eggs Benedict

Kubla Cant
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Griddled muffins?

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

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

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

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

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: says:

a bit of fresh spinach

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

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

Kubla Cant
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Thumb Up

Re: Robo-penpushers of the world unit

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

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TalkTalk 'fesses up to MEGA data breach

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

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

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

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Re: Updates is all that matters...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kubla Cant
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Re: TV / DVR etc. menu systems

Agreed! The new iPlayer UI is especially bad.

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

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Britain needs more tech immigrants, quango tells UK.gov

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

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

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

Kubla Cant
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Monopolies

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

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Kubla Cant
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there's nothing illegal about a monopoly

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

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

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

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

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Kubla Cant
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Re: I like MS Word...

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

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

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Cannonbridge sells us a dummy – great premise, crap ending

Kubla Cant
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Childcatcher

Faux Victoriana

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kubla Cant
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Re: LOOSE != LOSE

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

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

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

Kubla Cant
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Re: How to freeze animations?

Fair point, Mr Dabbs.

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

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Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

How to freeze animations?

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

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

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Jaguar F-Type: A beautiful British thoroughbred

Kubla Cant
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Re: Paint Contract

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

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Inside GOV.UK: 'CHAOS' and 'NIGHTMARE' as trendy Cabinet Office wrecked govt websites

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: phnaar..

What sort of redesign would you expect for 20k? Don't you mean 20m?

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Kubla Cant
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Random observations

Revolution not evolution sounds like the answer to "How do you guarantee failure in a software project?"

hinderance Leisa Reichelt, the GDS "head of research" should avoid using words she can't spell.

fashionable “digital” magic There's currently a public-sector body recruiting "digital Java developers". The phrase appears in listings by several agents, so it must originate with the client. I won't apply, as I'm just an analogue developer.

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Vodafone didn't have a £6bn tax bill. Sort yourselves out, Lefties

Kubla Cant
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Re: TAX shouldn't be taxing

@Yet Another Anonymous coward:

No doubt we can all see a difference between an ISA and an elaborate arrangement involving Swiss accounts. Perhaps we can even agree that the former is desirable and the latter undesirable.

The question is, how to promote the one and discourage the other. The tax laws are supposed to do this, but people find holes and exploit them to avoid tax. There are two possible solutions to this. One is to block the holes and accept that more will appear. The other is for the government to decide what is and isn't legitimate over and above the law. This is what got King John into trouble 800 years ago. Worse, arbitrary taxation is a guaranteed recipe for economic collapse.

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Kubla Cant
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There seems to be a worrying tendency to conflate tax avoidance and tax evasion. There have been recent attacks on "agressive tax avoidance" - the implication being that half-hearted tax avoidance is OK. Many of the tax laws are specifically designed to encourage avoidance, the most obvious example being the taxes on tobacco, alcohol and motor fuel, which are kept high to discourage their use.

At this point it's usual to quote Lord Clyde, who was a Privy Counsellor and Judge in tax cases:

No man in the country is under the smallest obligation, moral or other, so to arrange his legal relations to his business or property as to enable the Inland Revenue to put the largest possible shovel in his stores. The Inland Revenue is not slow, and quite rightly, to take every advantage which is open to it under the Taxing Statutes for the purposes of depleting the taxpayer's pocket. And the taxpayer is in like manner entitled to be astute to prevent, so far as he honestly can, the depletion of his means by the Inland Revenue.

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A cookie with a 7,984-year lifespan. Blimey, Roy Batty only got 4!

Kubla Cant
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Re: Year 9999

OK, expiry in 9999 is absurd.

On the other hand, assuming there is a benign reason to persist some kind of state beyond the current session, what is a reasonable lifespan? 10 years? 20? In most cases there's no functional difference between these and 7984 years. One year? A month or a week? In some circumstances this might defeat the purpose of the cookie.

If you accept cookies at all, why is a cookie with a lifetime of 7984 years more of an intrusion than one that lasts a week? The space consumed by most cookies is trivial. Most of a browser's disk storage is used for static resources like images and HTML pages; nobody seems to be getting upset about the expiry dates on these.

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Chinese food safety officials drank so much during working lunch that one of them DIED

Kubla Cant
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all of his colleagues and his boss were penalised for drinking during work hours

Probably unnecessary. If one of them drank enough to kill himself, I'd guess the others woke up wishing they were dead too.

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Atlas unplugged! DARPA's unTerminator robot cuts the power cable

Kubla Cant
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Is that you, Gregor Samsa?

It seems odd that what we're seeing is either bipeds that need a lot of engineering just to stay upright, or quadrupeds that can't do much except run around and carry stuff (though I have seen a clip of a 'mule' that throws pieces of masonry across the room - presumably it's been equipped with a temper module).

Why hasn't anyone made a quadruped with arms - like a centaur? Or a giant robot cockroach?

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Boffins baffled by the glowing 'plumes' of MARS

Kubla Cant
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Re: I don't get it... ?

This happened nearly 4 years ago. Why are we only just hearing about it now?

Possibly that's the time it takes to write up the observation and get it published in Nature.

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Worst … commute … EVER – Surrey to Sydney

Kubla Cant
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a "Bronte lifestyle"

That would be living in a chilly parsonage next to a seeping graveyard, writing a classic novel, and expiring on the sofa at an early age?

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It's not easy being Green. But WHY insist we knit our own ties?

Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: Yes, but,

The real thing simply isn't being sold because of industrial practices and corporate corner cutting. If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself because there's NO WHERE you can buy it.

Yeah, right on! I'm working on my own CPU chip at the moment. It looks like it will take me a while, but it's going to be much better than the rubbish Intel make.

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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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