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* Posts by Pen-y-gors

811 posts • joined 1 Oct 2010

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Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know

Pen-y-gors
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Some interesting possibilities here...

but delivering parcels for amazon really isn't one of them.

1) Major weight limitations

2) Where does it land?

3) How does it knock on the door for a signature?

4) How does it know to leave it in the garden shed if I'm out? And even if it does, how does it open the door?

5) How many people live within 10 miles of an amazon distribution centre?

6) And what about people living in blocks of flats? Does it knock on the window?

7) and the whole thing about collisions with trees, birds, power-lines, phone-lines etc...

Drones may one day have many uses, apart from firing missiles at Afghan children, but they won't include amazon deliveries.

</no-more-than-640K-prediction>

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The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?

Pen-y-gors
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Latin and philosophy

"In terms of logic, teach philosophy."

When I was a student at St Andrews (a few years ago now) all students wanting to graduate with an MA (i.e. all the Arts undergrads) had to pass first year Philosophy. Jolly good idea too - pity it didn't include the scientists as well.

And Latin? I had an interview, again many years ago, for a job as a programmer developing shipboard weapons systems, and they said that their best programmer was someone with a double first in Latin and Greek.

Bring back the good old days - Latin instead of meeja studies!

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No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer

Pen-y-gors
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Spacecraft partner?

At least NASA want all the work that's been done so far, so it's not a total loss. Time to call in SpaceX and see if they have a bit of spare capacity?

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Want a more fuel efficient car? Then redesign it – here's how

Pen-y-gors
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Advanced Motoring

Yep - that's what they teach on the Institute of Advanced Motorists courses - anticipation is very important, looking a long way ahead. Things like adjusting speed gently at roundabouts so that you can just keep going and slot into a gap rather than stopping and starting.

The courses are well worth doing - they may have changed a bit in the last 20 years, but they really improve your driving, even if (like everyone is) you know you're a "Good Driver". You go out in your car with an 'Observer' (experienced, trained member) who doesn't tell you what to do, but just makes comments and suggestions. When you're ready you do the test (two hours with a trained Police driver - seriously stressful!) - I think they now call it the Skill for Life course and the whole thing costs £149 - which is a real bargain.

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Pen-y-gors
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Re: Depends on assumptions

Fair point - I think the solution is to have a cheap, boring, modern, economical, comfortable car for day-to-day use (e.g. deisel Skoda) and then the classic Porsche/Jag/whatever for a few thousand miles of expensive annual motoring that's fun!

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Pen-y-gors
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Depends on assumptions

"Suppose you drive 5,000 miles (8,046km) a year in a car that does 30mpg and costs say, £205.00 to tax. Fuel and tax are costing you about £1,160. Swap it for a new car that does 40mpg and costs, say, £145 to tax. Fuel and tax are now costing you about £860, a saving of £300 per annum."

But how many cars these days can only do 30mpg? My 1989 Porsche 944 automatic manages 30mpg! And most new cars should manage a lot more than 40mpg.

With a more realistic set of assumptions: 12000 miles per year, and buy a new car that does 60mpg, with low emissions...

Costs of old car: petrol 2360 + 205 tax = £2565

Costs of new car: fuel 1180 + £20 tax = £1200

Annual saving = £1365.

Cost of new car £10K? so paid for completely in 7-8 years, less if you manage to get any trade-in on the old one.

But of course, if you're talking about a classic car, then you don't buy it based on fuel efficiency - you buy it because you love it, and sod the expense!

Of course, your mileage may vary. Still an interesting article though.

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Nobody wants to look at your boobs: Snapchat gets ads 'that interest you'

Pen-y-gors
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Fun?

"We want to see if we can deliver an experience that’s fun and informative, the way ads used to be"

Hmm...well, there were the Oxo family ads, and the Gold Blend ads on telly back in the stone age. Offhand I can't think of many 'fun' ads since then, so good luck to them.

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Ploppr: The #VultureTRENDING App of the Now

Pen-y-gors
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Depressingly plausible

Does the iOS version automatically post 30% of the deposit to Apple via iTunes? I'm tempted to start coding now...

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MasterCard adds fingerprint scanner to credit cards for spending sans the PIN

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Another weakness

A fundamental issue with biometrics (as with a national ID e.g. S Korea) is that they identify the user as a unique individual, and not simply as an authorised user, which means that many accounts can all be tied together by your friendly local Secret Police.

In many cases all that is needed is a means to authorise access to an account/credit card etc - with a pin or a password I can create an account and access it, but there is no link to other accounts. With a PIN on a credit card people can (in an emergency) lend the card to a friend or relative and let them use it, by telling them the PIN. Perfectly safe if it's someone you trust. I don't think I'd be willing to chop off a finger or pull out an eyeball so that a friend can get £100 out of the hole-in-the-wall for me!

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Beers all round as Vulture 2 lands in Blighty

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Mug arrived this morning

Really good stuff! Ta.

But I was a bit confused trying to remember what I might have ordered online that I had to "wash before using"

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Son of Hudl: Tesco flogs new Atom-powered 8.3-inch Android tablet

Pen-y-gors
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Nice, but why...

...does every manufacturer insist on installing bloatware that can't be uninstalled? Okay, as the article says, it's not a problem for space in this case, but it's clutter.

I wouldn't mind them installing their own junk, but why oh why can't we please be allowed to remove it? We can uninstall bloatware in Windows, we can remove garage stickers from car rear windows, why can't we remove the stuff we don't want in Android? Why does Android even have a 'make this uninstallable' option?

[Parrticulary pissed off as my aging Sony Experia Arc with 512MB is now getting VERY full, even though I have very few apps installed - but the updates keep getting bigger, and I'm not allowed to uninstall some crap games and FB to make room - and I can't be arsed to go through the faff of rooting it]

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EE TV brings French broadband price war to the UK

Pen-y-gors
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Seems very complicated

Another grumpy old fart writes...

At the moment I get Broadband from BT - basically the same people who manage the wires, the street cabinet and the exchange. It seems to work okay. Why add a middleman (EE) with no Broadband delivery experience?

I get TV from Freesat - plug it in and point it at the sky and it works. Why faff around with something more complicated. If I want to record stuff, I can buy a recorder. I don't, so I won't.

My TV already has a remote. Why would I want to faff around using a phone to control the TV?

Why would I be watching a programme on my phone when there's a TV in the room?

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Jaguar Sportbrake: The chicken tikka masala of van-sized posh cars

Pen-y-gors
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That last photo..

looks rather like a slick and speedy hearse. Maybe a market they hadn't considered? Going to your last rest at 149mph - and send any tickets to the corpse!

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Inflatables in SPAAACE! ISS 'nauts to enjoy bouncy castle spaceship

Pen-y-gors
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Starbucks, google, amazon...

They'll all be up there and calling the LEO office the corporate HQ, and - surprise, surprise - no-one to pay any taxes to!

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EU competition chief goes after Amazon’s delux Lux tax deal

Pen-y-gors
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5000 amazons?

I doubt it. Maybe he should have started with the biggest offenders and work down to the smaller ones.

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Britain’s snooping powers are 'too weak', says NCA chief

Pen-y-gors
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There's a germ of a good idea here...

One of the big problems with Ripa and related legislation is creep - it's introduced to crack down on paedorists, but then the rozzers use the same powers to investigate littering.

But, if there was one agency/police force that could only investigate paedorism, and the normal peelers couldn't investigate that, then it would be easier to introduce special powers (subject to judicial authorisation, of course) that could only be used by the anti-terrophile plods, with reduced danger of mission creep.

Still no justification to store 'meta data' on all emails and phone calls. Get a warrant from a judge and then they can start recording data for specific accounts/phones.

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EU's super-commish for tech: Geo-blocks on cat vids, music – NOT FAIR

Pen-y-gors
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"Tog Gear"?

Some new prog about really cool 60s clothing?

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‘This is 2LO calling’: Marconi transmitter, IBM Simon and more at the Science Museum

Pen-y-gors
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I think I missed something...

Cable, Telephone, Broadcast, Cell and Web I recognise - was I asleep during 'the Constellation'? Anyone want to give me a hint what that was? Semaphore? Penny post? Messages in cleft sticks?

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Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’

Pen-y-gors
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Welcome...

to the Vomitorium.

Pity us poor sods who work for a living in the real IT world, and pay taxes to support this crap.

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Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?

Pen-y-gors
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Re: You don't need rights when you've money

" my god how did this country manage for the 1000 plus years its has existed??"

Well, the poorer members of society tended to get fairly thoroughly shafted...

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Pen-y-gors
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Re: Just Within The Law

Well, obviously the driver was thinking about accelerating to 34mph, so bang to rights.

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Pen-y-gors
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Who will rid me of these troublesome fascists?

And just in case anyone interprets the above as some call to violence, I'm hoping that the British electorate will rid me of them via the ballot box. And then ban them as an extremist organisation.

I mean to say, is there any reason at all why these unpleasant people should be allowed to preach their hate-filled bile? Other than the obvious reason that free speech is a fundamental british value, dammit!

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Anti-Facebook Ello: Here's why we're still in beta. SPAMGASM!

Pen-y-gors
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Limit the followers?

Block button is an obvious start, but perhaps the alternative is to limit the number/rate of 'following's

- if it's a site for real people, then limiting the number of new follows to 10 or 20 a day would help to put the spammers off, ditto having a maximum of say 200 (or 300 or whatever) followees (after all, who really has more than that number of real/worthwhile friends, relations and genuine social contacts ?)

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Renault Twingo: Small, sporty(ish), safe ... and it's a BACK-ENDER

Pen-y-gors
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Bonnet space?

So, what exactly do they use the space under the flap at the front for, if not as a luggage compartment? Fuel tank? Somewhere to smuggle gold bullion and cocaine? Or just to store very smelly French cheese?

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Tearful LOHAN Playmonaut bids adiós to Spain

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Playmonaut?

I trust our heroic playmonaut will get his own seat in Business class, and not end up in the hot box?

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Ordnance Survey intern plonks houses, trees, rivers and roads on GB Minecraft map

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Hmmmm

Out of interest, who owns the copyright on material in Minecraft? (e.g. very detailed OS maps) - Maybe that's what Microsoft are after...

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Range Rover to fit trendy new SUV with FRIKKIN' LASER HUDs

Pen-y-gors
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Second-hand value?

Pistonheads has a number of used Range-rovers for sale from the 1980s. Will this clever HUD tech still be working (particularly the satnav bit) in 25 years?

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Move over, Apple Pay: Tesco trials PayQwiq phone-flash pay app

Pen-y-gors
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Or....

you could just pay with the credit card you linked to the app, without having to pre-register the card and faff around with apps and QR codes etc. - PaySlo sounds like a better name..

Someone at Tesco is rather missing the point about quick and easy payment. I wonder what else they're getting wrong?

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SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...

Pen-y-gors
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what sort of 3d printer?

What sort of things can they actually print? (apart from guns) - does it just produce brightly coloured plastic models of the Eiffel Tower, or can they knock out real, useful, spare parts made of some suitably strong metal alloy?

I assume it doesn't produce cups of leaves in hot water yet.

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MOST iPhone strokers SPURN iOS 8: iOS 7 'un-updatening' in 5...4...

Pen-y-gors
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Strange

I would have thought that getting 46% to upgrade in 4 days was an incredibly high percentage. Given that most new software has problems, whoever makes it, people have to be either really brave or really stupid to upgrade until a few million other schmucks have given it a whirl and let the manufacturers sort out their cock-ups.

I'll leave it to the reader to decide how the 46% of Apple earl adopters are split between really brave and really stupid.

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US team claims PARIS paper plane launch crown

Pen-y-gors
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Not playing fair

It's not really fair for a group with the multi-trillion dollar financial and research backing of the entire US military-industrial complex to compete against the amateur garden-shed wizardry of SPB.

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Will Europe's ISPs unmask anonymous IP infringers?

Pen-y-gors
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Not rocket science

Simple test - would they/can they impose the same limitations on a national postal service? i.e. do they have to inspect the content of every message? (and should they record the sender/receiver and dimensions/colour of envelope of every letter/parcel delivered.)

If the answer's No, then don't apply it to electronic communications.

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Getting to the BOTTOM of the great office seating debate

Pen-y-gors
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Essential extra

Do these 'chairs' come with the phone number of a good chiropractor ?

Most of them look like the forerunners of a lifetime of interesting spinal agony.

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TOR users become FBI's No.1 hacking target after legal power grab

Pen-y-gors
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Sauce for the goose?

So will they at the same time legalise the hacking of US-based computers by overseas users? Only seems fair...

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Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway

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1000 years?

Yep, long term preservation of storage is critical, but I'm not sure if a DVD-like thing that lasts 1000 years is actually going to be much use beyond the lifetime of the Third Reich, that other well-known 1000 year thingy.

The disk may well survive. Will the equipment to read it still be available? I think not. Will the algorithms to decode it still be known? Remember the Domesday Project.

And why does the Naval Research Dept need to preserve its data for 1000 years?

Really, if you want serious long term preservation, print it out on vellum, or chisel it into the stones at Stonehenge! Sad but true...

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Will Apple give Chinese iPhone workers cancer? THE TRUTH

Pen-y-gors
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The blame game

"But to blame Apple, or Foxconn, for a disease that we know can be brought on by the simple collection of migrants into one place seems a bit harsh."

Yeah, but it's such fun!

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First Irish boy band U2. Now Apple pushes ANOTHER thing into iPhones, iPods, iPads

Pen-y-gors
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8.0 or 7.0.1

I'm not an apple user, but the description of the new features makes me wonder whether it should really qualify as a major new release, or just adding a few minor features. Perhaps iOS7.0.1 would be a better name?

(Just remember how much difference there is between Windows 7 and 8)

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THREE QUARTERS of Android mobes open to web page spy bug

Pen-y-gors
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Why the Telcos?

I bought my phone from Amazon, SIM-free. Nothing to do with a Telco - I think you mean the manufacturer.

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Brit telcos warn Scots that voting Yes could lead to HEFTY bills

Pen-y-gors
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Re: for an IT site

Easy: .scot for the scots (already on the way), .fuk for former uk

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Pen-y-gors
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Re: Royal Mail??

Hmmm...since our beloved Westminster Government sold the formerly-Royal Mail to their chums in the city for peanuts, I can rapidly see an English (or UK) mail service that won't deliver to anywhere outside the major towns and cities, unless the sender pays a massive postal cost.

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Pen-y-gors
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If prices go up, we'll know who to blame.

The mobile Telcos.

It's entirely up to them if they decide to charge massive (but rapidly shrinking) roaming costs.

Look at the situation in Ireland - special plans available to minimise the costs for people caught out with inadvertant roaming charges. Why would Scotland be any different?

In fact, many of the scary 'unanswered questions' raised by the No campaign can be answered by looking at Ireland. Do they have customs posts on the NI border? No. Do they have to use passports to cross the border? No. Do thay have armed border guards at every crossing? No. Is it impossible for locals to live on one side of the border and work on the other? No. Can people live on one side of the border and shop on the other, even with (gasp!) different currencies? No again...

I don't live in Scotland, but if I did, I'd be inclined to vote for certainty. The certainty that in an independent Scotland the government would be chosen by and work for the Scottish people - much better than the uncertainty of staying in the UK - do the No campaign guarantee that the UK will stay in Europe? Do they guarantee that the NHS will be safe under a Westminster government? Do they guarantee that there will never again be a Tory or Labour government in Westminster? There is no certainty in life - whether the Scots vote yes or no.

Let's face it, there are times when a marriage ends in divorce - it can be friendly or it can be hostile, but it doesn't need the consent of both parties. When it's time to go, it's time to go.

</rant>

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Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s

Pen-y-gors
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Quite right

TV has to change. This is the 21st Century. We shouldn't be sitting down in our homes, relaxing after a hard day with a couple of hours in front of the idiot box. We should be busy, busy, busy...TV programmes (new or reruns from the seventies) are so much better seen on a tiny screen as we go about our lives, walking into the middle of traffic while we're glued to that seventeenth repeat of Poirot After all, tiny TVs made Clive.Sinclair a billionaire (or is my dementia setting in again). Who on earth wants to watch an old movie on a 42" telly while relaxing in a comfy chair with a beer and a curry and friends - I much prefer to hold a smartphone while standing on the bus.

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Weekly webinar: How to get started with Microsoft Azure

Pen-y-gors
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Question...

Does it include a session on building a full LAMP webserver using Azure?

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LOHAN tin-rattles to a whopping £27,000 on Kickstarter

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Re: Tankard?

Quite right! and anyway, only effete golf-playing southerners drink beer from a tankard with a handle. Real men (and ladies) use a straight glass, prererably without that funny bulge at the top.

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Weekend reads: A new Poirot, drug-fuelled Champagne Supernovas and The Establishment

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Peter Wimsey

Sometimes authors can get it right when they write a follow-up using characters created by a dead author - Jill Paton Walsh has done a few good books in the Peter Wimsey series, (some based on papers/drafts by Dorothy Sayers admittedly). If they work well then they can help tie up loose ends in the story of a long-lasting character.

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Be your own Big Brother: Monitoring your manor, the easy way

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No Android?

Why do companies like Withings still produce kit that only works with iOS (less than one third of UK market) rather than starting with Android (nearly two thirds) and then moving on to iOS?

Or is it a reflection that fanbois are more likely to splash the cash on very expensive gadgets to 'protect' their other very expensive gadgets?

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General Motors issues STOP DELIVERY for 2,800 corvettes over defects in 2015 model

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2015 model?

Is some sort of time machine in use here? Or are we just slipping into that strange time zone where the 'September edition' of Good Food magazine comes out in late July, and Euro 2016 footie matches take place in 2014.

Please bring back the old calendar!

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Drag queens: Oh, don't be so bitchy, Facebook! Let us use our stage names

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Odd

I have (I think) four or five FB accounts, none of them in my 'real' name - what is a real name? Under UK law you can call yourself anything you like, so long as there is no intention to commit fraud.

Actually, as this is El Reg, and I'm amongst friends here, I can finally reveal that my real name is Di Enw

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Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

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Re: Sod the IT arguments

I think you'll find the SNP had a commitment to an independence referendum in their manifesto.

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Intellifridge terror: Internet of Stuff kit must fend off hackers of the FU-TURE-TURE-TURE

Pen-y-gors
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Don't hold your breath

We've been using the Internet of Computers for 20+ years and that's still not secure, so don't hold your breath for an IoT that's secure now and for the next decade.

Of course, part of the problem is that everyone feels driven to upgrade their software and hardware every other Wednesday, which fixes old bugs and introduces new ones. There's a lot to be said for someone developing a simple, secure IoT thingy and keeping it in production, without any changes, for 20 years

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