1140 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010
Re: Ideal profit margin
"If we still had the GPO they would just do it because they were being paid to do it"
I can only assume that you weren't of phone-service-buying age in the halcyon days of Post Office Telephones. It used to take months to get a connection. There was little or no choice of phone or modem because anything connected to the network had to be certified in a locked office in a cellar with "Beware of the leopard" on the door.
"There are even some setups for Vim, Eclipse..."
What do you mean "even"? With the greatest respect to developers who use Django for Python and Rails for Ruby, I should think they're outnumbered 1000 to 1 by users of Eclipse. And what's a setup for Vim? As far as I know vi or Vim is present on pretty much every Linux and Unix system by default.
"the frankly horrible le ferry-boat"
Horrible, indeed. They should use the correct French noun, which is, if I remember correctly, "le paquebot" - no English elements in that, are there?
@John Smith 19 "It won't make the next OECD"
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development? Do you perhaps mean the OED?
Re: I quite like the train noises
Plus, on longer journeys,
"This is your Under-Assistant Senior Train Conductor speaking. We will shortly be arriving in X. If you are leaving the train, please make sure that you take all your bags and personal belongings with you when you leave the train. We thank you for travelling with Y today and wish you a safe onward journey. ... The buffet in coach F is now open, selling a range of hot and cold beverages, sandwiches and snacks. ... First class is in coaches A and B at the front of the train. Coach E is a quiet coach [not that you'd notice]. Gargle, bargle, blah, blah, blah."
I hesitate to dispute the account of somebody who's actually visited Bletchley Park, but the books I've read, both about BP and about cryptanalysis in general, suggest that Tunny was the code name for the traffic, rather than the name of a machine, and that Lorenz was a superencipherment.
Re: WTF is...
I too was about to ask "WTF is Etsy?".
Now that I know, I can't help wondering where this guy got his data from, given that "Etsy" occurred frequently enough to be significant. I work in an environment populated entirely by people who are geeks or nerds or both, and I see no evidence of a taste for handmade crafts.
Incidentally, I though a geek was a fairground performer who bites the heads off chickens, though I've never seen a satisfactory explanation of why anyone would pay to see this done.
The Boffins [sic] and egg heads possibly know how to spell "does", and that there is no apostrophe in the plural of "Psycho".
>many geeks are also nerds (and vice versa).
Why "(and vice versa)"?
If the set of geeks is smaller than the set of nerds, then the intersect set will not be a large proportion of the nerd set, so many geeks could be nerds without many nerds being geeks. For example: 80% of 100 geeks are nerds, but there are 1,000,000 nerds, so the 80 geek nerds are a drop in the nerdy ocean.
The phone book that came with our old rotary-dial phone in the fifties included instructions on how to dial 999 by touch, so that you could do it when darkness or smoke made it impossible to see the dial*. I think you located the metal stop with your right-hand third finger, then put your second finger in the hole to the left of it (the zero), then your first in the next left hole, and you're ready to dial. Whether you'd have the sang froid to do this when the house was burning down or you were hiding in the dark from a violent intruder is another matter.
* Obviously you had to commit the instructions to memory while you could still see, but we had to make our own entertainment in those days, so learning bits of the phone book was something you might do.
Re: Re: My mother
Proper phones are black, and made from super-heavy Bakelite (I'm sure I've seen old films where people are clubbed insensible, if not to death, with the handset). The cord isn't new-fangled plastic coil rubbish, it's respectable, plaited, silk-on-rubber-on-copper.
Re: Pulse dialling?
Clicking the handset rest* was a way to make free calls from pre-STD** call boxes.
IIRC, to make calls legally, you had to insert four pre-decimal pennies, things about the size and weight of a bronze coaster, dial the number, and when you were connected, press Button A to commit the transaction. There was a Button B for rollback. I suppose the phone wouldn't transmit dial pulses until you proved you had the money, but the line was enabled so you could simulate them by clicking the receiver rest.
It sounds like the Middle Ages, especially when you realise that the four pennies we saved were worth 1.7p in decimal money.
*known, confusingly as "phone tapping"
**Subscriber Trunk Dialling, not Sexually Transmitted Disease
Re: How well will it work?
I imagine that there's an important distinction between identifying people and finding people.
I seem to recollect a test in which a police facial recognition expert was matched against software. The task was to find target individuals in film of a crowded street, and I believe the software did as well as, or better than, the expert.
This sort of capability is obviously quite valuable for tasks like screening air travellers, and the software solution has the enormous advantage that it can be replicated in a way that isn't possible with human experts, and that it doesn't suffer from the fatigue and distraction that I imagine is a problem for them. Humans can then take on the task of eliminating false positives.
Not that I'm endorsing this - I think it sounds quite alarming - though I can imagine situations in which it would be valuable.
Great article, but the government icons are beyond irony. I thought the image was a spoof, until I followed the link and saw the real thing.
"a handy reminder of the different content formats" - I've stared at these icons for 10 minutes, and I can't imagine what content format any of them might represent. An arrowhead pointing up at two circular bands? Somebody tell me that's the recognised international symbol for "application/ecmascript" or something, before my brain explodes.
So it's kind of like Microsoft Exchange, and it's named after Microsoft Access?
Why does the river go in a circle?
The junction labelled "DM HUB" looks like it's based on the worst features of the Northern Line nexus around Euston and Camden Town.
I thought the ochre dotted line was the Zone 3 boundary, but it seems to have stations on it, including "Smart Kiosks". If the kiosks were that smart they'd be on a train line.
Re: Who makes the lift car?
While waiting for the lift in a building I was visiting, I read a notice that said it was maintained by The Economical Lift Maintenance Co.
I decided to take the stairs.
Re: Any rope is the problem
the lifts roll over at the top and bottom
This is what a Paternoster lift does. Going over the top is disappointingly un-thrilling, but then it has to be slow enough for people to get in while it's in motion.
Any doubts I had about the authoritarian, dictatorial, guilty-until-proven-innocent-but-probably-guilty-anyway attitude of the Police have been dispelled by this appalling MacPlod. He writes:
interaction with the Police due to an unlawful matter, such as being stopped at the roadside and issued a Vehicle Defect Rectification Scheme ticket
So, one cracked tail-light is justification for 100 years on the PNC. MacPlod ends with a piece of advice he could do with taking himself:
Get some perspective.
Re: English Taxpayers
RBS and HBOS are registered on the LONDON Stock Exchange. You may have heard of London, it is in England.
And if they were Scottish they'd be registered on the Edinburgh Stock Exchange? I think the last business done there was to finance the Darien Scheme (another Scottish financial disaster - the financial fallout from this was the main reason for the Union).
Re: English Taxpayers
Other important things Scotland contributes to the UK economy:
HBOS (the last third of this one)
Fred Goodwin's pension
a computer-generated (and therefore extremely good-looking) face... chatting away with a person who would be way out of their league in reality
"Out of their league" in what sense? Cleverer? With a more extensive knowledge of opera, oriental cuisine, philosophy, quantum mechanics... (insert your own cultural preference here). A remarkable technological achievement if they can produce that.
Or is this a device for training people to chat up beautiful airheads?
Re: Has anyone thought about roughage?
I think the term "roughage" and the more recent "dietary fibre" sound more, er, rough and fibrous than they actually are. Soya beans and lentils are good sources of dietary fibre, assuming it hasn't been processed away in the manufacture of this stuff.
Re: Pink wafer biscuits = Soylent Pink
"tea break"? Are you working in the 1950s?
Worst jobs in the world: no 53
Thanks to the miracle of centrally-planned production, the Warsaw Pact armies also suffered from a shortage of bog roll. Apparently an important source of intelligence for the West were the "recycled" secret documents that could be found all over the countryside after a military, er, exercises.
"Your mission, 007, is to wander round fields in East Germany collecting up the used bog paper."
Re: Valuables in your parked car?
My car was broken into three times in a month to steal the audio head unit, when parked in the Maida Vale area of London. The police, of course, had more important things to do than investigate - two of them in a van were busy telling people not to cycle in Kensington Gardens.
Why do thieves steal car radios? It's been years since you could buy a car without one, so the only cars without are those from which it's just been stolen. Many stolen units are replaced on insurance, and there's also a vigourous aftermarket sector for replacement car audio. It follows from this that there are probably more audio units than cars. I don't know what price stolen units fetch, but I should think you have to steal an awful lot of them to maintain even a moderate drug habit.
Re: Why on a laptop
All sensible businesses keep sensitive data on secure servers. The more clued-up ones disable any workstation features that would allow data to be exported. The last place I worked had an instant-dismissal rule for taking data - including source code - off site. If you need to send something to another office, you have a WAN, or at least a VPN, to do it on. If you need to work on something at home you use remote access.
But the public sector seems to be stuck in the age of sneakernet. Massive files of sensitive data on laptops, CDs in the post, flash drives down the pub, and so on. Why?
Re: "The board is seeking submissions from Brits"
Look across the channel and the cheesy aroma will blow you off your feet. - yeah, but that's just French people.
Lovely though continental cheeses are, you wouldn't want to toast any of them In Switzerland there's a cheese called Raclette that seems to be made exclusively for toasting. A typical Raclette night on a skiing holiday: the first course is melted cheese, boiled potatoes and pickles. The second course is also melted cheese, boiled potatoes and pickles, and so are all subsequent courses. It's basically death by cheese.
"cheese on corning pastie" - Pyrex pasties are what real hard men eat.
Re: a top-of-the-range toasted sandwich maker
The correct term for a top-of-the-range toasted sandwich maker is "oxymoron".
Re: the correct way..
@I ain't Spartacus:
Warming may release flavours from brandy - though the balloon glasses designed to do this are very 1970s, and serious brandy drinkers don't use them. But the flavour added to cheese when it's browned is probably a result of a Maillard reaction. Just warming it through is insufficient to produce this reaction.
Two ways with Welsh Rarebit:
- mix grated cheese with flavourings such as mustard, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper, spread it on toast and grill
- cook up grated cheese in a pan with beer (plus additional flavourings as above), pour it over the toast when melted, then grill it
For some reason the Welsh used to be famous for their preference for toasted cheese. There's a Medieval anecdote that alleges Welsh midwives use the smell of toasted cheese to tempt out reluctant Welsh babies.
I quite like the way the German's eat donor meat
The doner kebab seems to have been invented in Germany, although the inventor was probably Turkish.
Incidentally, it's doner, not donor. "Donor kebabs" are what they make from bits of organ donors.
Re: There is even an IT angle
Although English isn't an agglomerative language, it's dangerous to make assumptions about maximum word length because you can almost always add an affix. Before antidisestablishmentarianism* existed, there may have been people who practiced protoantidisestablishmentarianism .
*The crappy Firefox spellchecker has put a red line under "antidisestablishmentarianism" and "agglomerative". I guess it's only happy with a language level like "See John run. John runs to the shop."
I've had to fix quite a few programs that were probably written by dogs.
@MissingSecurity: "the Swiss looking to ding him"
I know Europe all looks much the same from your side of the Atlantic, but the people who live in Sweden are Swedes. The Swiss live in Switzerland.
Re: Re: Astonishing
What you say about species-specific viruses makes sense (to me, with nil knowledge of virology).
But viruses do jump species. Think of the various strains of flu that come from birds and pigs, and all the other human ailments that are believed to have been acquired from domesticated animals. When HIV first became widespread there was a credible theory that it was a monkey virus that migrated to humans who were bitten while trapping monkeys for meat.
This sounds remarkably like the start of the selection process for Golgafrinchan Ark Fleet Ship B.
Re: Flick switch, light turns on
Mostly I agree with you, but there's a serious use for lights that are independently switchable or dimmable in order to light a room in an attractive or mood-enhancing way. Controllable colour though? No thanks.
What would be useful (and may well already exist) is a way to control a collection of portable lights, that are powered from ordinary mains outlets, from a single location. It's useful to be able to switch all the table lamps in a room from the doorway, especially in an old house where the room height doesn't allow ceiling lights. But it's expensive and disruptive to wire up dedicated lighting outlets.
I once worked for an SME that bought an accounting and payroll package and a PDP/11 to run it on. The MD negotiated a really keen price - so keen that the supplier went bust between supplying the hardware and installing the software.
Not, in the end, a wise buying decision, although it worked out well for me because I taught myself serious programming on the unemployed PDP/11.
But who fills the kettle with water first?
Exactly. It reminds me of an audio system I once owned. The remote control had a button that opened the CD tray, so you could do so from the other side of the room without leaving your chair. After months of practice I was able to throw a CD into the tray from a distance of ten feet, but could never work out a way to get the old one out first.
Re: "I could care less for the button itself"
I'm puzzled by the voting pattern on the "could/couldn't care less" issue. There are six postings specifically about this phrase. Four in favour of "couldn't" received 2, 16, 22 and 16 upvotes. One in favour of "could" received 35 downvotes.
My posting in favour of "couldn't" got 6 downvotes. Time, the great healer, will eventually soothe my pain. But I am, as I said, puzzled. Was my explanation unclear?
Re: "I could care less for the button itself"
Both are equally clear, in context.
Perhaps, but one makes sense and the other doesn't.
Brit English; "I couldn't care less" is comparable to "It could not be better", in other words, "It is very good, as good as can be"
Yank English; "I could care less" is comparable to "It could be better", which is usually taken to mean "It is bad or mediocre",
The Gulf Wars did indeed show the shortcomings of a mid-20th-century type army in the face of the latest military technology.
But Afghanistan (and before that, Vietnam) showed that technology is by no means invincible.
Re: “Waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy,"
Will it certainly fail, or only probably?
The people in their twenties that I know (admittedly a fairly small sample) never wear watches. If you want to know the time, look at your phone.
When I were a lad, being given a watch was almost a rite of passage, but these days you give them a watch and it gets left in a drawer.
I've never heard of the original TV series, so when I read the headline I assumed it was something to do with the people who presented Tomorrow's World.
But after reading on I realised that one was a stupid sci-fi fantasy and the other was The Tomorrow People.
Re: @Tim Roberts 1 (was: darkness)
There was a François Truffaut film called "Day for Night". I was amused to see that the French for "day for night" appeared to be "la nuit américaine". Presumably this reflects its ugliness, along the lines of "French leave", "Dutch courage" etc.
I once read that the main reason home-grown tomatoes (and possibly other vegetables) taste so much better is partly the varieties chosen, but mostly because they tend to be subject to slight water deprivation from time to time as they mature. Commercial growers make sure their tomatoes take up all the water they can, for obvious reasons.
Re: British Intelligence
Upvote for Between Silk and Cyanide
- NASA boffin: RIDDLE of odd BULGE FOUND on MOON is SOLVED
- SOULLESS machine-intelligence ROBOT cars to hit Blighty in 2015
- BuzzGasm! Thirteen Astonishing True Facts You Never Knew About SCREWS
- Worstall on Wednesday YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
- Tor attack nodes RIPPED MASKS off users for 6 MONTHS