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* Posts by Kubla Cant

1168 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Curiosity team: Massive collision may have killed Red Planet

Kubla Cant
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Re: Maybe it was just one impact

Why is Mars tiled at a similar angle to the Earth?

Same tiler?

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UK gov's smart meter dream unplugged: A 'colossal waste of cash'

Kubla Cant
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Re: @Ragarath

@IHateWearingATie the smart meter and can ... wait until the spot price is low

The hell with spot. I want a smart meter that can do futures and swaps!

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Hold on a mo: Brits blow £56m a year on the blower to gov minions

Kubla Cant
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Why aren't they all free?

Look at the advantages for DWP.

By conducting their business over the phone, they save money. They throttle their workload because people can't be bothered to hang on. They avoid an embarrassing backlog of unanswered letters and emails, because phone calls leave no trace. They avoid personal accountability, because you never speak to the same person twice. They avoid having to solve problems and correct cock-ups - replying to a letter or email would require some effort at resolution.

And, in return, they expect callers to pay premium rates. Do they really imagine people call DWP for pleasure?

I suggest we all start to send them long, hand-written letters, with a follow-up every 14 days "I draw your attention to my letter of the 17th ult., to which I am surprised to have received no acknowledgement...". When the last DWP citadel disappears beneath a heap of Basildon Bond, we'll know we've won.

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1953: How Quatermass switched Britons from TV royalty to TV sci-fi

Kubla Cant
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Alien

I never saw Quatermass on TV because we had no set. (My parents had one on trial in the early fifties, but evidently felt it was a lot of money to pay to watch The Potter's Hands inside a goldfish bowl.) In my teens I bought the script for Quatermass and the Pit as a book. It was brilliant. Proof, perhaps, that the pictures are better in your head.

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CONFIRMED: Driverless cars to hit actual British roads by end of year

Kubla Cant
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Random points

If the aim is to replicate the intelligence of an average driver using AI, then they'd better hunt down some MS-DOS 8086 kit.

Interesting that the boffins in question are at Oxford University. The traffic restrictions in central Oxford are such that they've probably never seen a car, although they may have read about them.

Anyone who has a car with parking sensors will know that they're hopelessly pessimistic. Even if you don't practice nudge-parking, you know that you still have a few inches when the sensor is in a screaming panic. If the automatic cars are similar, there will be a lot more opportunities to shout "Get on with it! You could drive a bloody bus through that gap!"

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Kubla Cant
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Re: They've been on the road for years

That's nothing, young man. Before the Austin 1100 there was the Austin A35, the Morris Minor and (massive feat of memory, here) the Austin Ruby.

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Boffins want toilets to become POWER PLANTS

Kubla Cant
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Re: Back of a loo-roll calculation:

I suspect that you have over-estimated the calorific content of a day's urine. The presence of nutrients such as sugars and proteins in the urine is normally a symptom of illness, so presumably the 5% should be mostly urea.

It's also not clear whether you're talking calories (i.e. energy to boil a cc of water), or Calories (used in dietary calculations, but strictly kilocalories).

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Articles with no comments

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Articles with no comments

Over the past week or so there seems to have been a marked increase in the number of articles that have no attached comments. Instead, they conclude with a wheedling plea to comment in the forums section.

I enjoy reading and contributing to Reg comments sections, but frankly not enough to follow a link to the forum home page, then search for comments on an article I've just read. To judge from the dearth of article-specific matter in the forums, this is true of most Reg readers.

Why is this happening? Do you have an agreement with your more lily-livered authors that ensures they won't be exposed to the mordant postings of commentards?

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Unreal: Epic’s would-be Doom... er... Quake killer

Kubla Cant
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Re: Memories

Same here, though sadly no joints in our office. Even so, I can recall flinching when the lift doors opened - in Doom, something nasty was sure to emerge.

I'd like to add my voice to the comments that deplore plotting in FPS games. I enjoyed Doom I and II and Quake, so when Doom III* came out I expected more of the same, only better. What I got was a load of training routines, and boring plot-filler talks from NCOs. If I wanted that sort of thing I'd join the Army**.

* Pretty sure it was III - it might have been another number.

** Not to be taken literally.

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Man sues Apple for allowing him to become addicted to PORN

Kubla Cant
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Thumb Up

He cannot currently practise law due to disability

RSI.

There's an icon for that.

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Kubla Cant
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And...

DARPA for inventing the internet

Sir Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the web

Alan Turing for inventing the Turing machine (and David Hilbert for encouraging him)

Eadward Muybridge for inventing the zoopraxiscope (and for making up a stupid name for himself)

Charles Babbage for inventing the computer

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Boeing batteries back under spotlight as 787 burns at Heathrow

Kubla Cant
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@AyrtonSenna

probably by a coffee machine that was left on to boil dry and catch fire

I would have hoped that the cooking equipment on an airliner has overheat cut-out switches. My kettle at home has, and it's not even a Dreamkettle.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Duracell

Not likely! The cabin will be full of stupid pink rabbits banging cymbals.

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Kubla Cant
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Weight on Wheels

I'm intrigued by this. From the sound of it the ground/flight switch that preceded WoW switched between the aircraft's internal generators and a ground-based power supply. If the WoW switch does the same, does this mean that the power all goes off as soon as the wheels touch the runway? And does it mean that they need either a very long extension cable or a very fast generator truck to provide power until the weight is off the wheels?

Flippancy, obviously. But it does suggest that WoW is something more complicated than a simple substitute.

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Dev bakes actual, edible raspberry pie with Raspberry Pi

Kubla Cant
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Re: You can't bake a proper pie in a microwave.

Once again, James, you show your inability to recognise a joke.

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Hubble spots ALIEN NAVY world – and it's pelted with GLASS RAIN

Kubla Cant
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Alien

Re: Hellish is a point of view

Speaking as an alien, the temperature is quite comfortable, but the sideways glass rain is a bit of a bummer.

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Forget Snowden: What have we learned about the NSA?

Kubla Cant
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Re: Petition calling for a public inquiry on GCHQ's Tempora

By submitting information you are agreeing to 38 Degrees keeping you informed about campaigns

You'd get a lot more signatures without this. I was about to sign until I read it.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Secret laws

it worked well for Venice. its Star Chamber was so effective. Not.

Maybe Venice's Star Chamber would have been more effective if it was in Venice, rather than Westminster.

The court was so called because it met in a room in the old royal Palace of Westminster that had stars painted on the ceiling*. Far from being ineffective, the objection to the Court of Star Chamber was that it was arbitrary, secret and ruthlessly effective. It was abolished in 1640, after a run of about 200 years.

*The palace is long gone, but the ceiling, oddly, survives in a house in Cheshire.

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Apple builds flagship store on top of PLAGUE HOSPITAL

Kubla Cant
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Pirate

Re: Well yes

A nightmare for builders too, I suspect. When I was about 10 years old, it became known that bones were turning up on a local building site. A group of us went down there and picked a few choice items out of a trench, including a human vertebra that I subsequently took to school to show to the history teacher. The street sign said something like "Orchard Close (formerly Pesthouse Lane)", so this too was probably the remains of a plague hospital. You can see why they changed the street name.

This was back in the fifties when:

- a trench containing human remains was not cordoned off by the Police

- no archeologists were involved

- it didn't seem risky for kids to poke around in a plague burial

- a primary school teacher wasn't much fazed when a kid turned up with human remains

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Gadgets are NOT the perfect gift for REAL men

Kubla Cant
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The problem with a gadget as a gift for a techie is that it's likely to be inferior to, and possibly more expensive than, the model that you'd have bought yourself after exhaustive research.

So-called "kitchenalia" seems to be acceptable to both sexes (except unredeemed men who can't cook and old-school feminists who won't). My ex-wife recently gave me a food mixer and a pasta maker, both very welcome. I'm thinking of buying her some decent kitchen knives, as the ones in her kitchen are blunt rubbish, but for some reason I'm queasy about the idea of a knife as a gift.

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France's 'three strikes' anti-piracy law shot down

Kubla Cant
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Losses

@Anarko_bizounours we did not lost so many conflit, only most of those after Napoleon 1er

The ones that always seem to matter to (us) English are Crecy, Agincourt, Blenheim - all well before Napoleon 1er.

I have to agree that it applies equally to the English, Germans and Spanish. But the Italians?

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Universal Credit? Universal DISCREDIT, more like, say insiders

Kubla Cant
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Trollface

Re: Pardon?

some sort of review of IP addresses

Because everybody knows that evil fraudsters always use the same IP addresses.

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US gov SMASHES UP TVs and MICE to nuke tiny malware outbreak

Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

Contract

The agency hired an outside security contractor, at an eventual cost of $823,000

Why don't I get contracts like this?

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Texas teen jailed for four months over sarcastic Facebook comment

Kubla Cant
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Re: Texas ADULT

Anyone age 17 or older is dealt with as an adult by Texas criminal courts.

Unless, of course, they're buying alcohol, in which case they're minors until the age of 21.

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UK Post Office admits false accusations after computer system cockup

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Keeping the beaurocracy alive...

I assume "beaurocracy" is the rule of swankily-dressed men from the Regency era.

Or could it possibly have something to do with bureaucrats?

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Kubla Cant
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Re: This is just getting ....

Rule 1 of big IT should be never assume the system is correct over a human

The problem is that if you're a very stupid person, then even the most unreliable computer system seems infallible to you.

Also, fobbing people off is the way of life in the public sector. My wife has been trying to sort out a NI problem for the past two years. She never gets to speak to the same person twice, and every person she speaks to comes up with a different excuse - all of them invalid. Bureaucrats know they can keep this up until you die.

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BBC abandons 3D TV, cites 'disappointing' results

Kubla Cant
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Re: Special glasses

They tried "3D" in the same old way, and it failed in the same old way.

Exactly. Whenever the entertainment industry is feeling a draught, they try to fix their problems with a technical solution. "3D" films were introduced in the mid 20th century to try to reclaim audiences that had defected to TV. It failed. The succeeding decades saw numerous technical gimmicks: Cinemascope, 70-mm, Todd-AO, Cinerama, and finally "3D" again. Nobody really cared much about any of them.

It's notable that many of the films that usually top polls are black-and-white and Academy aspect ratio. That's not to say that this combination would pull in audiences for new films, but it does demonstrate that content is what matters.

(+1 for quoting the Duke of Wellington.)

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ULTRASONIC BOLLOCK BLASTERS help Hawkmoth battle The Bat

Kubla Cant
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Disappointing

I expected "ultrasonic bollock blasters" to be something the moths used to zap the bats bollocks. I pictured the bats flying away with their legs (if any) crossed.

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Spending watchdog SAVAGES rural broadband push

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Fedora back on track with Schrödinger's cat

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

"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.

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Germans brew up a right Sh*tstorm

Kubla Cant
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Happy

"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?

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Rest your head against a train window, hear VOICES in your SKULL

Kubla Cant
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Re: AC@11:38

@John Smith 19 "It won't make the next OECD"

Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development? Do you perhaps mean the OED?

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Kubla Cant
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Unhappy

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."

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Rise of the machines, south of Milton Keynes

Kubla Cant
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Tunny

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.

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What's the difference between GEEKS and NERDS?

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

The Boffins [sic] and egg heads possibly know how to spell "does", and that there is no apostrophe in the plural of "Psycho".

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Kubla Cant
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Boffin

Re: Redundancy

@Chris W

>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.

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Live or let dial - phones ain’t what they used to be

Kubla Cant
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Alert

Re: 999

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.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Re: My mother

Cream? Green??

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.

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Kubla Cant
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Pirate

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

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Privacy activists sue FBI for access to facial recognition records

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Can Jonny Ive's new 'iOS Vista' SAVE the BBC's £100m BRAIN? Yes!

Kubla Cant
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WTF?

Icons

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.

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Can DirectAccess take over the world?

Kubla Cant
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Joke

So it's kind of like Microsoft Exchange, and it's named after Microsoft Access?

Sounds good.

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Gartner magicians conjure technological TUBE MAP

Kubla Cant
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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.

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New material enables 1,000-meter super-skyscrapers

Kubla Cant
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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.

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Kubla Cant
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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.

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Number of cops abusing Police National Computer access on the rise

Kubla Cant
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Big Brother

@AC 10:20

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.

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HP sacks English employees to bag Scots gov jobs cash

Kubla Cant
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Re: English Taxpayers

@AC 12:32

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).

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Kubla Cant
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Re: English Taxpayers

Other important things Scotland contributes to the UK economy:

RBS

Clydesdale Bank

HBOS (the last third of this one)

Fred Goodwin's pension

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Shy? Socially inadequate? Fiddling with your phone could help

Kubla Cant
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Paris Hilton

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?

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