* Posts by Kubla Cant

1870 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Windows 10 on Mobile under the scope: Flaws, confusion, and going nowhere fast

Kubla Cant
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Windows 8: try to foist a tablet interface on desktop users. Result: failure.

Windows 10: try to foist a desktop interface on phone users. Watch this space...

Windows 11*: everybody gets the interface from a TV remote control.

* or 12, or 15, or 3000...

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UK.gov makes total pig's ear of attempt to legalise home CD ripping

Kubla Cant
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Re: Compensation for what?

If commentards had to pay a few hundred thousands of pounds for every barmy assertion, I think it would concentrate minds wonderfully.

Saucer of milk for Mr Orlowski, please.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Compensation for what?

If I buy a CD (do people actually still do that?)

Yes. The CD is a useful archive copy. It's likely to stay around for much longer than most of the phones, computers, cars, USB sticks etc that I may copy the content to.

Also, availability of good quality downloads is variable. I'm certainly not going to pay money for over-compressed MP3 crap, even if that's what I listen to on portable devices.

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Kubla Cant
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The sooner artists start thinking of digital copies of their music as advertising for their talents rather than the product itself, the better.

Performers apparently get about 13% of the selling price of CDs, so it's probably not a huge source of income for any but the biggest sellers.

The record companies, on the other hand, take 30% of the gross selling price. I therefore suspect that the artists who want compensation aren't the performing artists, but the piss-artists and con-artists of the recording indistry.

Source: BBC News

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The Register's resident space boffin: All you need to know about the Pluto mission

Kubla Cant
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A fantastic achievement, and a fascinating article.

I wish I could say the same about Monday evening's The Sky at Night on the same topic.

For some reason they repeatedly called Pluto's moon Sharon. It's news to me that the Lord of the Underworld had an Essex girl rowing the boat across the Styx. Even though they're astronomers, they surely can't be unaware of the mythical origins of the names. "Charon" starts with the Greek letter chi, which I've always assumed to be a slightly aspirated "k" sound. It's not as if there isn't a major world religion that's spelt with chi.

I have a vested interest: like many other people in the world, my given name starts with this phoneme. Am I going to have to call myself "Shris" in future?

Another couple of points. Why do TV presenters think the best way to show a picture on my TV screen is to show me their sodding tablet? If they can get the picture on the tablet, they can show it full-screen on the TV. And why does The Sky at Night have to be presented by irritating hyperactive nitwits? Doubtless highly-qualified nitwits, but the point remains.

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GOOGLE GMAIL ATE MY LINUX: Gobbled email enrages Torvalds

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Linux spam

Top marks to Google. I for one am sick to death of Linux spam.

Every day I get numerous emails from Nigerians offering me ten million lines of code if I'll send them my bank details. Then there are the offers of kernel patches to increase my penis size, to say nothing of the improbable emails from young women offering hot device driver action.

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Reg top tip: Don't have the same name as someone else if you use Facebook's Instagram

Kubla Cant
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Andrés Iniesta, a Spanish man who is not a member of FC Barcelona

I don't know much about football, but is it really so unusual not to be a member of FC Barcelona? What percentage of Spanish adult males are members?

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Cops baffled by 'canal corpse' that turned out to be COCONUTS

Kubla Cant
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That's how they do migrate

Coconut palms grow on island beaches where the nuts can fall into the sea and drift off to other islands.

It's a while since I saw the canal in Stretford, but from what I read of the improvements in Manchester I assume that all the canals are now fringed by sandy beaches with palm trees.

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Rise of the swimming machines: US sub launches and recovers a drone

Kubla Cant
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Question

Excuse my ignorance. How do they communicate with the drone, and over what range is it possible?

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2015 Fiat 500 fashionista, complete with facelift

Kubla Cant
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Re: units

litres per 100 km

All cars these days are sold with fuel consumption statistics in litres per 100 km and miles per gallon. Most newish cars will display their fuel consumption in either unit.

Unfortunately, we measure distance in miles but we buy fuel in litres, so calculating the cost of a journey requires knowledge of the conversion factor* and a little bit of unnecessary mental arithmetic. What we really need is miles per litre.

*For some reason, probably laziness, I never know the litres/gallons conversion, but I can always remember gallons (of water) to pounds, pounds to kilos (approx) and, of course, kilos (of water) to litres. This isn't a good calculation to be doing in traffic, and I suspect my results are too approximate to be useful anyway.

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Being common is tragic, but the tragedy of the commons is still true

Kubla Cant
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Feedback

My knowledge of nomadic pastoralists is meagre, to say the least, and previous posts have made it clear that the vision of peaceful sharing in the Mongolian steppes could not be further from the truth. The repeated invasions of Europe from the East* were more likely to have been caused by resource depletion than mindless aggression.

That said, I suspect that in practice the tragedy of the commons must depend on the efficientcy of the feedback loop. If shortage of resources culls the population of depleters fast enough, then a stable state can be achieved. The problem is that although homo sapiens has fairly low fertility, the resilience and adaptability of the species are such that it can usually survive exhaustion of one resource and go on to deplete another.

Lemmings have a large 3-4 year population cycle that might be due to this kind of feedback. I suppose we have yet to find if there's an equivalent cyle for us.

* Huns and possibly Goths, as well as Mongols.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: 5000 years

@P.Lee In the past, there was little to be gained by having ever-large flocks of sheep

On the contrary, Eastern England has many insignificant villages with magnificent churches paid for out of wool profits. The fact that the Lord Chancellor sits on something called the Woolsack is an indication of the money in sheep-runs.

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Evil computers sense you’re in a hurry and mess with your head

Kubla Cant
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Re: Cheap components

@AC So you didn't buy from a supplier with reliabilty and maintenance? You didnt buy with adequate warranty? You didnt invest in resilience or a plan B?

Thank you for injecting a note of seriousness, even sententiousness, into an otherwise intolerably light-hearted discussion. BTW, your perfect world is impaired by a missing apostrophe.

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Kubla Cant
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What do you mean you can’t find the printer?

It was an act of evil genius to invent the wireless network printer.

Usually, a recalcitrant printer would grudgingly get on with it when you used the cable that tethered it to your computer to send threats direct to its interface. Now they just sit in the corner sipping on mains power and only receiving the messages they want to hear. I suspect they spend most of their time posting snide messages about their owners on social media sites only accessible to printers.

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WINGED VELOCIRAPTOR 'from HELL': Closest thing ever to a real DRAGON?

Kubla Cant
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Re: Hang on.. 6 limbs?

feathers evolved because birds became homeothermic

Sounds credible. I believe it's now thought that dinosaurs were homeothermic. I know nothing of dinosaur dermatology, but I can imagine that feathers are at least as likely a way of developing an insulating layer as fur.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Hang on.. 6 limbs?

No, four limbs. Two large legs at the back, and two rather puny forelimbs. The wings are part of the forelimbs (or vice versa). It's clearer on the picture of the fossil.

This does raise the question of what use are wings that don't enable you to fly, I've tended to assume that modern flightless birds have wings because they've inherited them. This creature and its kin seem to have developed wings as a sort of decorative feature on the forelimbs. The implication is that wings (and feathers, too) evolved in response to some non-flight-related selection pressure and then turned out to be useful for flying.

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Brit school software biz unchains lawyers after crappy security exposed

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Some people are very heavily invested and don't want to loose their shirts.

If they keep their shirts tucked into their belts, they won't be loose.

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Europe a step closer to keeping records on all passengers flying in and out of the Continent

Kubla Cant
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Charlie Hebdo

So this measure is to be implemented in response to the Charlie Hebdo murders, and a previous one in response to 7/7.

Is there any evidence at all that the Charlie Hebdo attack could have been prevented by this sort of information gathering? The 7/7 bombers came from places like Leeds and travelled by train, so you'd need to record what kind of crisps they bought from the snack trolley.

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Horrifying MOCK BACON ABOMINATION grown in BUBBLING VATS as ALGAE

Kubla Cant
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Re: Snake

This farm shop sells frozen "exotics" in its butchers. I'm pretty sure I've seen snake and alligator, but I haven't tried either. Although they do keep Nile crocodiles on the farm, and the nearby Raptor Centre has pythons, I don't know if all or any of the exotic meat is home-raised.

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Kubla Cant
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all of the substantial number of different kinds of bacon in Tesco has added water

It goes against the grain to praise Tesco, but at the moment I'm buying their Finest dry-cured bacon, and it's completely slime-free. It's annoying how often allegedly dry-cure bacon is full of water (notably Waitrose own brand). Presumably they pump the water in before or after the dry-curing process, or maybe they make the pigs drink a lot.

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Kubla Cant
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Does it taste naturally of bacon, or do they add bacon flavour? If the latter, is it the flavour of good bacon or nasty bacon? And do they use bacon because it's the only flavour strong enough to disguise the native flavour of the algae?

Most important of all, does it fry without exuding white slime, unlike 90% of supermarket bacon?

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The Great Barrier Relief – Inside London's heavy metal and concrete defence act

Kubla Cant
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Re: Balanced article

Somehow I suspect the number of 'Merkins proudly sporting "Stockport College" on their chests is somewhat smaller.

But there do seem to be quite a lot wearing "Oxford University" sweatshirts. Maybe they're just Rhodes Scholars.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Balanced article

-1 for "The Bakelite and white-coat era systems were phased out in the 1990s".

I'd be astounded if an installation opened in 1984 used Bakelite. I know that 1984 seems like ancient history, but Bakelite belongs to an earlier era. It was invented in 1907 and by 1993 was old enough to be designated as something called a National Historic Chemical Landmark.

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Kubla Cant
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FAIL

Re: Balanced article

-100 for use of "a VAX running PDP 11".

Does the author think "PDP 11" [sic] is some kind of software? If so, it was very prescient of DEC to write "PDP 11" in 1970, seven years before they invented a VAX to run it on.

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Behold: Pluto's huge ICE MOUNTAINS ... and signs of cryovolcanoes?

Kubla Cant
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Re: mostly...Only Orpheus has returned from Hades.

Can't help you with the frogs, I'm afraid.

In space, no-one can hear you ribbett brekekekex koax koax.

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Ex-MIT prof jailed for 'making experimental film' about bank robbery. In a bank. Without saying it was a film

Kubla Cant
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How tiny the crime of bank robbery is in comparison to the crime of being a bankster, robbing entire countries while sitting at the table with queens and chancellors as "advisers" but in reality, as the real decision makers.

Yawn.

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Did MARS once have OCEANS? Curiosity discovers continental crust

Kubla Cant
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Do they speak Italian on Mars?

the red planet's cotta surface

Panna cotta? Terra cotta? Or just "cooked"?

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My top three IT SNAFUs - and how I fixed them

Kubla Cant
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Heard about this intermittent problem in an office I once worked in. This was in the days of standalone PDP-11s, before networks and PCs. Every few months, there would be evidence of serious disk and memory corruption problems, lasting about an hour.

The office was next to the Thames. Visiting warships would moor alongside HMS Belfast, which was just opposite. When the time came to leave, the radar operators used to run some kind of test, with the result that all nearby computers were thoroughly zapped with radio waves.

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Sixty-five THOUSAND Range Rovers recalled over DOOR software glitch

Kubla Cant
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Range Rover Clown Car

So there's a software "feature" in the Range Rover that opens the doors while you drive along. Is there another that makes the wheels fall off?

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What do you MEAN, 'Click on the thing which looks like a Mondrian?'

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Forward slash

Eventually I discovered they meant forward slashes.

There is no such thing as a "forward slash". There is a slash, and a backslash. A forward slash would have to slope forward more than a slash, so it would overbalance and become an underscore. But "forward slash" isn't the worst; the radio presenter John Humphries is so prurient that he thinks "slash" is a rude word, and he calls it "stroke". Pass the sickbag, Alice.

The correct name for this character is, of course, "solidus". This has the advantage of being both unambiguous and historically interesting. The solidus was the slash used between shillings and pence in £sd prices (eg 2/6d), and was so called because "s" and "d" are the initials of Roman coins, the solidus and the denarius.

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Someone at Subway is a serious security nerd

Kubla Cant
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Password verifiers

The enterprise incarnation of MS Windows evidently includes a feature that allows the BOFH to implement a complex set of password rules without telling anyone what they are. So on the day when you start a new job,and you have 100 other things to remember, you have to go though this:

Computer says "You have to change your password at first login."

You enter a new password from the range of passwords you can remember.

Computer says "No. Does not conform to rules."

You enter a mangled version of one of your memorable passwords.

Computer says "No. Does not conform to rules."

...repeat many times with increasing mangling until...

You enter an impossibly complex password that will conform to just about any rules. It is 30 characters long and includes uppercase, lowercase, digits, punctuation, whitespace, runes and hieroglyphs.

Computer says "Oh all right then."

You immediately forget the complex password.

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Ditch crappy landlines and start reading Twitter, 999 call centres told

Kubla Cant
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Txt vs voice

Anyone who has to communicate with the young people who don't do voice calls will be familiar with the scenario where an exchange that would have taken 30 sec on a voice call takes 30 min of txt exchanges.

-> Where are you?

<- out

-> Out where?

<- cmbrdg

-> What time will you be home?

<- l8r

-> Do you want supper?

<- mb

.....

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NSA snooped on German chancellors for DECADES: Wikileaks

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Ich bin ein Berliner

"famous gaff"

Since we're dicussing the meaning of words, I think I'm entitled to point out that a "famous gaff" would be something you use to kill fish. JFK's mistake was a gaffe.

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PLUTO: The FINAL FRONTIER – best image yet of remote, icy dwarf planet REVEALED

Kubla Cant
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informally known as "the whale"

What about the petunias?

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A quarter of public sector IT workers have never used the cloud

Kubla Cant
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What about the rest?

I'm astonished at the implication that three-quarters of public sector IT workers have "used the cloud". I've worked in a lots of private-sector IT departments, and I'm not aware that anybody "used the cloud".

But the article says that public-sector IT workers send things by post or courier instead of "using the cloud", so it sounds like it's just a silly name for email and ftp. If so, I can proudly claim to have been "using the cloud" for at least 20 years.

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Smartphones are ludicrously under-used, so steal their brains

Kubla Cant
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Re: Meh

the lesson is supercomputers are so cheap they can be embedded anywhere

Exactly. An informative comparison can be made with the development of power tools.

Once upon a time, power tools were relatively expensive, so everyone would buy a single power unit (the drill) and several attachments that could be powered from the drill. Then people realised that they were wasting a lot of time switching attachments so they started to buy self-powered tools instead. Economies of scale brought the cost of the power unit down, and that accelerated the process.

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Russia campaigns to stop SUICIDALLY STUPID selfies

Kubla Cant
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Re: Sure it was the selfie stick?

Yes. Sure it was the selfie* stick. But it wasn't the electrical conductivity of the stick that caused the lightning strike - it was the judgement of $DEITY on selfie-takers. One down, 999,999,999 to go.

* When did we all decide to use baby-talk? Selfie, onesie... should I start saying horsey, piggie and doggie?

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Norks execute underperforming terrapin farm manager

Kubla Cant
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pleased to see various kinds of vegetables growing in thick verdure at every greenhouse

If your greenhouse produce is "growing in thick verdure", it sounds like it's time you did some weeding. I guess Kim doesn't do much gardening.

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We tried using Windows 10 for real work and ... oh, the horror

Kubla Cant
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Re: Move on there - nothing to see

linux sucks ass in a business environment where you have customers using windows word & excel

Here's a horror story that shows how sadly true this is.

I recently received a plain text email inviting me to a webex meeting at 06:00 BST on a Monday morning. I concluded that it was either a considerate attempt to avoid interrupting everyone's working day, or some kind of power-play. Either way, I decided I had to attend as it was important and there were lots of other people involved, so I hauled myself out of bed at 5:00 am to prepare. By 6:30 I was still the only attendee, and I was sick of the hold music on the phone, so I gave up.

When I checked with another invitee, he said "It shows as 2:00 pm in my calendar" (by which he meant Outlook). It seems Microsoft's ploy to make everyone use Outlook is to plague non-users with incorrect and inconvenient invitations. It's obviously not a timezone problem: the invite specifically said BST, and the originating computer is also running on BST.

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WHY did NASA probe go suddenly SILENT - JUST as it was about to send pics of remote ice-world?

Kubla Cant
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Re: because of the nine-hour delay for communications

Because of the nine-hour delay for communications they were unable to press a key to prevent it from running chkdsk when it rebooted.

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This box beams cafes' Wi-Fi over 4kms so you can surf in obscurity

Kubla Cant
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Re: Self destruct?

I was thinking of the TV series, but my memory of TV 50 years ago isn't clear enough to recall exactly what the device was. I was going to admit that it couldn't have been a cassette, but it turns out the Compact Cassette was launched in 1965, and Mission Impossible was on TV from 1966.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Missed a trick........

have it drive round the urban roads at night mostly hidden under parked cars

It's a neat idea, but why do you want to film the underside of parked cars?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: libraries

Think about the IT people working behind the counter at the access point.

So the counter staff in Starbucks are really IT people? Understandable, as they certainly don't know how to make coffee.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Self destruct?

I hope "self destruct" doesn't mean it bursts into flames and burns down the library. The cassettes in the original Mission Impossible used to emit smoke, but no flames*. In real life it might be difficult to guarantee one without the other.

* I guess it wouldn't look too cool if the MI operative had to stamp out flames when his message "destructed" itself. AFAIK this was the original use of the odd phrase "self destruct", and responsible for the odd back-formed verb "to destruct". Why not "destroy"?

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Let me PLUG that up there, love. It’s perfectly standaAAARGH!

Kubla Cant
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Drains

I remember in my first year trying to unblock a rainwater gutter at the front of my house and, having dug down to see if the drain had broken, discovered that there was no drain at all and that the guttering pipe simply poked directly into the solid clay under the paving stones.

My understanding is that rainwater downspouts must not be connected into the foul sewer (assuming that's what you mean by "drain"). Rainwater is supposed to be directed into a soakaway, which generally means it just goes into the ground through the paving. Solid clay doesn't sound like a very effective soakaway, but it's conceivable that there was something more effective at the end of the downspout when it was installed, and that it's filled up with soil over time.

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Chair legs it from UK govt smart meter installation programme

Kubla Cant
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Joke

Re: A modest proposal

@Ledswinger Because supplier margins are around 4%, that's all you'd save

I would guess that 4% is much larger than a typical Forex margin. And you're making the mistake of assuming that the meter is actually buying electricity for me to use, whereas I'm suggesting that it should build a position. Commodity traders don't actually eat all those pork bellies.

Please note the icon that you seem to have missed first time round.

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Kubla Cant
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Joke

A modest proposal

If they're going to all this trouble, why not install really smart meters that do algo trading? I'm thinking of something that can send an RFQ to all the energy suppliers and take forward positions to minimize my energy costs. With 26 million traders, it could be an exciting market.

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Goodbye Vulcan: Blighty's nuclear bomber retires for the last time

Kubla Cant
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Re: The RN's inability to operate unsupported wasn't the RAF's fault

There's a well known saying that the military always start out fighting the previous war.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: A beautiful aircraft though - Possibly the loudest thing I've ever seen move.

I saw a Vulcan take off at the Farnborough Air Show as a kid - I suppose it must have been the early 1960s. I recall the massive noise that made the ground shake, and also the incredibly steep climb as soon as it left the ground (I think they were showing off).

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F# earns Syme top Royal Academy of Engineering award

Kubla Cant
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A quick, unscientific way to assess the popularity of a language* is to see how much demand there is for the skill. JobServe returns 15 jobs requiring F#. Not many, compared with C# (1599), Java (1797), JavaScript (1736) or even Scala (162). This suggests that the opinion of people who actually use programming languages to do stuff isn't quite as enthusiastic as that of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Cross-platform? Up to a point. F# seems to be tied to Visual Studio**, which I think only runs in Windows, and the output is apparently CLI, JavaScript or GPU code. It's not my area of expertise, but depite Mono, I'm not aware of extensive use of CLI languages on non-MS platforms.

* Or at least to assess whether learning it is a good career move.

** Yes, I know real developers don't use an IDE (or a screen, or a keyboard).

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