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* Posts by Kubla Cant

1172 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Elon Musk unveils Hyperloop – the subsonic tube of tomorrow

Kubla Cant
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Re: 35 minute trip with no bathroom?

Most suburban transit systems (e.g. the London Underground) have journey times at least as long, and none have toilets.

Why would you want to take a bath while you're travelling, anyway?

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: A pipeline?

@Mips "Fit for Shakespeare"

Well, yes. But it's a modified quotation of the motto of the US Postal Service, which is in turn a translation of Herodotus. So it's either more recent than Shakespeare, or much older.

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Mobe-slurping Wi-Fi SPY BINS banned from London's streets

Kubla Cant
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Re: Forget the privacy implications

phone switched off and in an RF protective case

Have you considered that it might be easier not to have a mobile phone at all?

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Tell me, professor, what is big data?

Kubla Cant
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In the days before world+dog got into relational databases, data had to be stored in files. When databases started to become popular there was a notorious vendor nostrum: "Just put everything into a database, and then you can get whatever information you need out".

To an extent, this was true. Extracting meaning from data stored in files was always difficult and resistant to ad-hoc queries. But the implication that a database is a sort of magician's bag, into which you dump masses of disorganised data and from which you pull meaning and truth, never was.

The advocates of big data seem to be resurrecting the magic bag.

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This weekend: Watch HOT STARS shower! Moon won't interfere

Kubla Cant
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Re: You can bet your sweet biddy

The thing you bet is actually a "bippy" (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-in, c1967)

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Ofcom: Making a switch between ISPs will soon be much easier

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Copper?

the decision applies only to switching providers on BT's Openreach copper network

As I'm not a communications engineer, can somebody explain to me what is the relevance of the element that the conductors are made from? Why shouldn't people who are unfortunate enough to be connected via inferior aluminium wiring benefit from this change?

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ULTIMATE cuppa contenders prepare to go mug-to-mug

Kubla Cant
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Methodology

Your standard methodology will skew the results. I believe many aficionados of China tea prefer the second infusion. Also, it effectively eliminates some very fine teas that are better drunk without milk. For example:

Darjeeling

Lapsang Souchong

Gunpowder

By way of contrast, the worst tea I ever tasted was during a holiday job as a tram conductor in Blackpool. Every member of the crew brought an enamel brew can containing pre-mixed leaf tea and sugar. After adding boiling water they'd swing the can round a bit, then add condensed milk. The result was brick-red and so sweet that you could feel your teeth getting looser as you drank it.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: 12 Contenders - No, No only 11

@Richard the Head: if your inside information on Twinings tea is as reliable as your spelling of their name, then I think we can ignore it.

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Serious Farce Office: 32K secret BAE probe files spaffed to WRONG bod

Kubla Cant
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Flame

Knee-jerk

Emily Thornberry, Labour's shadow attorney general, said: "This is government incompetence of the first magnitude."

Gosh, that's a surprise.

Don't these politicians (of all parties) understand that it's this kind of stereotyped response that makes them some of the most reviled and distrusted people on the planet?

This is a clerical error of some kind, serious, perhaps, but not "government incompetence of the first magnitude", which needs to be something bigger, such as starting a war over WMDs that don't exist, or selling off the gold reserves when the market is at the bottom.

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Webcam stripper strikes back at vicious 4Chan trolls after year of bullying

Kubla Cant
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Trollface

Trolls and trolling

When I first encountered the concept of trolling in discussion groups, I assumed the reference was to the fishing strategy where a lure or bait is dragged through the water to catch predatory fish. It seemed a vivid analogy for the way trolls operate.

Lately, however, it seems to have mutated, and it now seems to be a reference to the Scandinavian monsters that lurk under bridges. The Reg troll icon looks more like one of these than a fishing lure. This feels like a much blunter metaphor.

Was I wrong in my initial assumption?

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Steelie Neelie finds phone calls are cheaper in Latvia than in Luxembourg

Kubla Cant
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Re: Another subsidy effect...

people who can't afford the fancy plans with "free" phones get to subsidise those who do

Few people can be bothered to upgrade their phone or switch plans at the end of the contract period*. Even if you do, the total cost is usually more than you would have paid if you'd bought the phone and used a SIM-only contract.

So the subsidy is likely flowing the other way.

*This certainly applies to me and to everybody I know. Phone contracts are like gym membership - you overpay because you don't finish the contract when you could.

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NO, ELEPHANTS, it's we DOLPHINS who NEVER FORGET our best pals

Kubla Cant
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Breeding consortium

all part of a breeding consortium, so the dolphins had met at some point

Are you sure you mean "met"?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: As Sir Terry said...

I suppose the passing dolphin at Kings Cross station was catching a train to Fishguard.

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Tough luck, bumpkins! Blighty broadband speed gap misery worsens

Kubla Cant
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Re: what are you planning on shoving down a pipe bigger than 10Mbps

@Phil O'Sophical: I'm reasonably sure that buying more phone lines would simply move the contention from inside the house to outside it.

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Horrific moment curvy mum-of-none Mail Online spills everyone's data

Kubla Cant
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Translation

Am truly disgusted by this news and it's another nail in the coffin of despicable things that happen all the time now.

In normal usage:

"another nail in the coffin of X" = X will soon cease to exist

"despicable things that happen all the time now" = X in the above

So, no more despicable things. That has to be good news.

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Xerox copier flaw changes numbers in scanned docs

Kubla Cant
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Facepalm

@MrDamage

As an ex-field tech for Xerox, I came across a number of problems that occurred simply because people were not willing to RTFM.

It may come as a surprise to you to learn that most people in offices have more important things to do than read photocopier manuals.

Once upon a time the photocopier was a vital piece of office equipment, and people used it often enough to know how it worked, though I don't suppose they read the manuals, even then. With the reduction in paper documents, an average person might make one photocopy a month. Meanwhile, the copiers have become much more complicated.

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GenieDB uncorks database-as-a-service

Kubla Cant
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"putting all those headaches of DB administration off of your own plate so you can focus on app development"

My experience suggests that the headaches of DB administration involve things that a DBaaS supplier is unlikely to do for you - efficient design of the physical schema, partitioning, management of storage areas, query optimisation, persuading junior developers that primary keys and normal form make things easier, not harder.

"For millions of dollars you can build similar looking technologies on Oracle or even on MySQL"

On Oracle, maybe. But if you've spent millions of dollars on a MySQL installation, I'd like to see the receipts.

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Happy first anniversary, Curiosity!

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: "sulfur"

I have the highest regard for Victoria Coren Mitchell, but I think she's wrong about "sulfur".

Most British people's aversion to "sulfur" is based on a suspicion that it's an Americanism, a consequence of the misguided spelling rationalisation that gave us "ax" and "color". In fact, many European languages use "f" in their various spellings (e.g. Schwefel, soufre, zolfo). I believe the "ph" in the English spelling was actually introduced as part of the curious Renaissance fashion for making words "more classical", the same trend that added the pointless "b" in "debtor".

"sulfur" is, of course, the spelling mandated by whatever international body controls the names of elements.

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Geneticists resolve human dilemma of Adam's boy-toy status

Kubla Cant
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Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

it is not likely there even *is* one objective truth for all values of 'truth'

So is the statement above true or not? I'm pretty sure that it's an instance of Epimenides' Paradox dressed up with a bit of probability.

If you believe in multiple values of true, then it must be impossible for you to evaluate any proposition.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

@2StrokeRider

Pointing out the fringe is humerus

If you can point out your fringe with your humerus then you must have very flexible shoulder joints.

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Upgraded 3D printed rifle shoots 14 times before breaking

Kubla Cant
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I expect cricket bat handles are harder to obtain than guns in the USA.

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Jimbo Wales: ISP smut blocking systems simply 'ridiculous'

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Every device?

The MP shot back: "The WHOLE POINT is that they are not government ISP filters (excuse the shouting) but are the filters you are expected to install on every device now."

This is news to me. I suppose that if Perry issues detailed instructions then I might be able to install something on my routers and computers, but the TV may be a problem because I don't have access to the firmware.

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Virgin Media blames scruffy students for HUGE drop in cable subscribers

Kubla Cant
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Re: Eh?

Really? I didn't know "sequentially" only applied to quarters.

What word do you use to describe a sequence of days, months or years?

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Kubla Cant
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Eh?

the "sequentially higher churn" was largely due to student movers at the end of the academic year

Doesn't the same thing happen every year?

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Win XP alive and kicking despite 2014 kill switch (Don't ask about Win 8)

Kubla Cant
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High water mark

June was the high water market hitting nearly a whole one percentage point of growth. Last month, though, its rate of increase slumped.

If you hit the beach like the techies are supposed to be doing, you will have the opportunity to wade into the sea until it comes up to your nose. You will find that the high water mark is not the point at which the rate of rise decreases, but the point at which the water stops rising.

A reduction in the rate of growth is not a decline, and is only indicative of a decline if you can predict the shape of the curve.

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Climate change EVEN WORSE than you thought: It causes WAR and MURDER

Kubla Cant
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Re: Biggest problem

Population growth engenders conflict without competition for resources as a cause.

Populations that are growing rapidly contain a disproportionate number of young adults (because of the growth curve, and because societies with low life expectation have high birth rates). Societies with a high proportion of young adults have been shown to be more quarrelsome and aggressive. I suppose: old farts don't fight much because they expect to lose.

This is one of the reasons for the surprising, and mostly counterproductive, aggressiveness of mediaeval society.

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Ha ha, Osborne, these Gov 2.0 web wranglers have wiped out UK debt

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: Your browser is outdated ...

The new typeface doesn’t work perfectly everywhere, we’re aware of that. It pretty much works on a Mac in all browsers and on Windows in Internet Explorer. It’s not quite there in Firefox or Chrome on a PC.

Yeah, because no web developer in the world has ever managed to design a page that displays properly in all browsers.

You can tell this statement originated from a graphic-designer type dickhead because (a) he thinks the Apple Mac is the most important target platform, and (b) he thinks the Mac (a computer), Windows (and operating system) and PC (lots of different computers) are subsets of the same category.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Geeks in jeans

Somehow, you just know that the jeans in question have creases ironed down the legs.

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Google Glassholes can't take long walks off short piers thanks to Merc app

Kubla Cant
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You're holding it wrong

"holding a camera would be a pain in the arse."

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UK economy to lose £198m if BBC and pals lose EPG slots - Ministry of Fun

Kubla Cant
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Re: popularity

There is an HD tab on the EPG you know.

Not necessarily. The presentation of the EPG is specific to the TV hardware. My 3-year-old TV has no such feature. Unlike the rather older model it supplanted, the favourite channel feature is so bad that I never use it.

So I rarely watch in HD.

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Hey, Silicon Valley milky drink fans: Starbucks intros wireless charging

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Ubiquitous

whomever???

Hint: you wouldn't say "the person whom is supplying...".

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Texas students hijack superyacht with GPS-spoofing luggage

Kubla Cant
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Re: Obvious question. How many *merchant* ship have separate INS/GPS systems?

Perhaps he's a victim of spellchecker-spoofing equipment.

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Google menaces Apple's 3-year-old toddler with its cheap stream tech

Kubla Cant
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Meh

Re: Meh

Double meh. I've read the article and about a hundred posts, and I still can't see what this gadget is for, nor why I should want one.

Why would I want to see stuff from my phone on the TV screen? If I want to use NetFlix I'll get it over my broadband connection. How many films does it take to burn through a typical mobile data allowance?

Is there some kind of content that's only available on phones? Anything else, I'll view on one of the computers in the house. If it absolutely has to be seen on a TV-size screen, and it's not available through the TV's internet connection, I can connect a computer to the TV.

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'World's BIGGEST online fraud': Suspect's phone had 'location' switched on

Kubla Cant
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Re: SQL injection - a big-mouthed web developer speaks

@AC 12:59: Any big-mouthed hacker brave enough to explain how he SQL injects prepared statements?

The kind of data access code that falls for SQL injection is usually a horrible mess of concatenated strings and escaped quotation marks. Trying to decipher it hurts your eyes and your brain. But converting it to something much more secure* isn't a particularly challenging task.

*I accept that nothing is 100% secure, but I've created plenty of sites that pass professional penetration testing. I don't suppose the sites that these hackers broke could claim that.

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Kubla Cant
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Facepalm

SQL injection

Learning that it is still possible to get hold of the details of 160 million cards using SQL injection is like being told that Fort Knox keeps a key under the doormat.

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Galaxy S4 FIREBALL ATE MY HOUSE, claims Hong Kong man

Kubla Cant
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Trollface

the blaze spread to his Merc too

And the blazing Merc also caused severe damage to his LearJet and his yacht, which were both in the driveway.

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Banknote campaigner's Twitter rape threats ordeal: Bloke, 21, cuffed

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: No problem with a woman being on a note

Most people's experience of 19th century novels is through the medium of TV and film adaptation.

There have been far more adaptations of Jane Austen than Mary Shelley, even allowing for the long tradition of Frankenstein films. Partly this is because Austen wrote more books, and partly because, in all honesty, she wrote better books.

Also, despite the adaptation entitled Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the story is better-known in the Boris Karloff and Hammer interpretations, which have a tenuous connection to the original author (or, indeed, the original story).

So I rather doubt that either sex knows more novels by Mrs Shelley. WRT Mr Shelley, a lot of people probably have some knowledge of Ozymandias, even if they don't know who wrote it.

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Mozilla ponders blinkers for your browser

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

Re: Browsing history

We see that you're interested in doggy videos. We think you'll also like the following:

- cat videos

- more cat videos

- dogging videos

...

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Senator: Surveillance state based on secret law 'has no place in America'

Kubla Cant
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Re: seriously?

I wondered about that, too. I assume that anything said in Congress would be protected by some kind of absolute privilege*. So he could expose any secret goings-on that he could find out about.

*To be honest, I don't know the US constitution, and I'm extrapolating from the British model. Statements made on the floor of either house of Parliament are privileged. Presumably the Official Secrets Act doesn't trump this privilege - how could it, when the Act is Parliament's creation.

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Congrats architects, PR bods, toolmakers - you're the new digital tycoons!

Kubla Cant
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Facepalm

Define your terms

At the end of this article, I still don't know what makes a company "digital". Is it:

They manufacture digital hardware?

They develop software?

They sell hardware or software?

They use the internet for e-commerce?

They have a web site?

They use email?

They use a PC?

They use another digital device such as a till or cordless phone?

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For pity's sake: DON'T MOVE to the COUNTRY if you want to live

Kubla Cant
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If you live in the country, you drive more, especially in the US country, where small towns don't even provide sidewalks.

How many Americans still drive American cars? The bankruptcy of Detroit suggests not many do, but if they're widely used in the boondocks these trashy machines would account for a pretty high mortality rate.

Also, I think the legal age for driving is lower in the USA, and the driving test seems to be something of a formality (it would infringe your civil liberties not to be allowed to drive). Young drivers account for a high proportion of fatalities everywhere in the world.

In the part of rural USA that I've visited most, there seemed to be pretty regular fatalities on the gateless level crossings, despite the fact that the trains travel at about 15 mph and you can see them coming miles away.

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Only 1 in 5 Americans believe in pure evolution – and that's an upswing

Kubla Cant
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more people lived since the origin of homo sapiens until the advent of "modern" medicine (and so only had access to the loony kinds of medicine, at best) than during the period of existence of "modern" medicine

I don't know the numbers either, but I'm fairly sure that there are more people alive to day than ever lived up to, say, 50 years ago. What proportion of the people alive have access to modern medicine in any useful way is a different question.

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Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Re: equitation

"He delighteth not in the strength of the horse: he taketh not pleasure in the legs of a man." (Psalm 147)

The first part seems to mean that he owns a horse, but doesn't like it. It's hard to know what to make of the second part.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: There is an answer.

The correct answer is "Turtles all the way down".

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SkyDrive on par with C: Drive in Windows 8.1

Kubla Cant
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Re: "The newly-revealed features will be welcomed by Windows users"

An accidental cut-n-paste direct from the press release, I assume.

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Boffins, Tunnel Tigers and Scotland's world-first power mountain

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

Re: Terrorists?

For some reason photographs strike terror into the hearts of jobsworths everywhere. Remember the rash of totally illegal police confiscations and prohibitions directed against photographers?

A couple of years ago I was in the fancy shopping centre in Cambridge with the son of a friend. He was taking photography A Level and thought he might find some interesting shots there. Sure enough, after five minutes a uniformed jobsworth told him it was forbidden for "security reasons".

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Kubla Cant
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Alien

Re: Splendid!

"Geek's Guide to Europa"

I think we should include Ganymede and Io too. It's a long way to go for just one moon.

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Burger-rage horse dumps on McDonald's: Rider saddled with fat fine

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Re: Damn horses

I too find it annoying to have to dodge horse shit when I'm on a cycle track. I find myself wondering whether this is a result of the disdain that the equestrian classes have always felt for everybody else (but that's just the sort of mad idea that results from cycling too fast).

In the Swiss ski resort of Zermatt there are lots of horses that pull sleighs and carriages around the village. These are all fitted with a large bag to catch the droppings. It looks pretty stupid, and there's something depressingly Swiss about it, but it keeps the streets cleaner. If the equestrians don't care for this solution, then they should be obliged to find an alternative solution. It wouldn't kill them to get off their high horses and shovel it up. It might be a suitable repayment for the elaborate consideration that equestrians expect from other road users.

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US town mulls bounty on spy drones, English-speaking gunman only

Kubla Cant
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Re: English speaking? @ribosome

Thomas Pink is a shirtmaker in London. I didn't know they sold Barbours, but it wouldn't be surprising. You can buy Pink shirts, ties, socks, underwear etc, with no requirement that any of it is pink.

Maybe this is what he's on about. If so, it's well on the unsplit side of side-splitting.

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Middle America pulls up sagging pants menace, belts repeat offenders

Kubla Cant
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Remember when

Cast your mind back to your own salad days, o commentards. Can you honestly say that you never wore anything absurd, offensive or impractical?

I know that if I review my wardrobe between the ages of 15 and, er, 35, I suffer from extreme internal cringing.

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