* Posts by The Indomitable Gall

1436 posts • joined 10 Jun 2009

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Boss visited the night shift and found a car in the data centre

The Indomitable Gall
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Facepalm

Funny this comment should pop up today, because while I'm not having a server room problem, I discovered last night that the cleaners are storing waste paper in a fire equipment cupboard at my current workplace.

I have logged this with the very top of our "security and safety" department, alongside a lecture theatre with both fire exits blocked during exam sittings.

Not a happy bunny today.

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Raspberry Pi burning up? Microsoft's recipe can save it and AI

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Cooling

The most ridiculous one I've seen yet is the geek who suspended his Pi in a small fishtank full of mineral oil. With that much oil, he didn't even see the need to include a circulator, which is fair enough as convection should probably handle it.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: "a fan mount that positions a small blower"

I wish people would stop talking about bacon. I'm living in a country where it's not illegal to eat pork products, but as most of the country doesn't, almost nowhere sells bacon. Certainly nowhere in my town. :-(

Although that said, what I'm missing most at the moment is a toaster and sliced pan bread.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: "a fan mount that positions a small blower"

" Also, that's too hot for a good fried egg. "

Erm... no.

The 67 degrees C mentioned on the Guardian article is for sous-vide cooking, and it takes aaaaaaaaaaaages. Sous-vide is a deliberately low-temperature cooking style. I imagine most people actually frying their eggs will be using a notably higher temperature.

(I suspect most folk would say I fry my eggs at too high a temperature anyway...)

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Man prosecuted for posting a picture of his hobby on Facebook

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Police Scotland = Morons with time on their hands

" "I don't think the police having a break and a bit of fun is them "making arses of themselves""

I wouldn't think that police having fun while on their break is 'making arses of themselves' either, but the point is that (according to the story at least), they were on duty. That's not 'making arses of themselves' , that's gross unprofessionalism / misconduct. "

A) They do say they were on a short break.

B) People in all professions go on team-building trips regular during their paid working hours. That the chief super was in there with his plods means it could very easily be justified as a team-building exercise and/or public relations.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Anarcho-Tyranny

As I've just commented elsewhere in this thread, it's more complicated than that.

In the past, Scotland hasn't always done enough to counter the glorification of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland (and a disproportionate amount of what was traditionally done was against pro-republicans, while Rangers fans were still happily waving UVF banners at matches with impunity).

There's good reason to worry about people posing for pictures in "black combat gear", and I don't have a problem with them investigating when an image like that is presented to them. The problem here is that they didn't drop it as soon as they discovered it was someone playing a game of tig.

But the glorification of the Norn Irn situation has been a major societal problem for decades, even if mostly concentrated in Glasgow, and while the law is clearly overbroad, there is still a need to be able to stop genuine glorification of terrorist violence.

Oh, and politics comes into it to, because sectarianism has historically influenced all sorts of things, through HR hiring policies to party candidate nominations.

Don't get me wrong, I do think the law here is a mistake, and that the police officers involved acted like total muppets, but I do recognise that we have to look beyond that and look at the whole thing in context.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: What else

I suspect that what happened was that the image was published with global permissions, and it popped up in his feed randomly. It probably looked to him like someone playing dress-up as a Northern Irish paramilitary.

My guess is that he took a screenshot but not a link, buggering up the opportunity for further investigation and realising what a ninny he was making of himself.

But once they started questioning the guy, they really should have dropped it, because it's clearly all very silly.

Nightmare for the guy in the pics, though; poor sod.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Laws

In this case, I suspect it all arises from the glorification of paramilitary violence in Northern Ireland by a subset of residents of the greater Glasgow area -- it's an issue that hasn't always been tackled as strongly as it should have, but there is always a danger of overcompensating as we can see here.

The description of the picture as "black combat gear" brings it into the realms of possibility that this did look a lot like a republican or unionist paramilitary. But then again, Grangemouth isn't in greater Glasgow.

All in all, while the plods in question can be excused for flagging up the image for further investigation, the fact that their superiors saw fit to push for charges rather than dropping it is just ludicrous.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Police Scotland = Morons with time on their hands

@AC

I don't think the police having a break and a bit of fun is them "making arses of themselves" -- I think it's good to see them as humans.

I'd also like to point out that the Mail highlights the low arrest rate in an effort to make it sound like dereliction of duty, when in fact it proves that the event was pretty low risk and a break was very reasonable.

I mean seriously... come on...

Surely we should be applauding a Chief Super who jumps on for a quick dodgems ride with a bunch of his PCs...? Isn't that, like, creating a good atmosphere for everybody? (Or at least everybody except Mail readers.)

Nowhere near in the same league as chasing people for posting Airsoft pictures.

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Combinations? Permutations? Those words don't mean what you think they mean

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Mechanical combination locks

It gets worse.

A lot of people don't change the codes very often, and the action behind keys that are used most tends to soften fairly quickly. There have been times where I've forgotten the combination to a room/building and reminded myself by just prodding all the buttons until I find the soggiest ones, which then let me in. Scarily weak security.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: "Pedantically, neither of these phrases are correct"

Regardless, pedantically both are correct, because of something called polysemy....

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The Google Home Mini: Great, right up until you want to smash it in fury

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: They're all crap

The problem is that we've spent a heck of a lot of time on natural speech recognition, which overcomplicates matters ridiculously.

With our inefficient GUIs we've trained people out of the idea of learning "commands", and when it boils down to it, every speech recognition interface has some kind of assumptions coded into it that mean we really are dealing with a command set, but a fuzzy one, and one that isn't written down anywhere.

OK, so Google will give you a rough overview of the command structure if you make a mistake, but only if you make a mistake that it recognises (such as it working out that Keiran was trying to make a call) and that it recognises as a mistake (it didn't realise it was phoning the wrong person, for example).

I genuinely think people are open to a formalised compromise.

I mean:

OK Google, Call [[person]] using [[application]]

seems straightforward, and quick. Getting rid of the "I would like to ..." part sets everything up for a straightforward paradigm.

OK Google, Switch on the [[device]] in [[room]]

And sticking with a fairly simple formula, you can get a reasonable degree of sophistication:

OK Google, open The Register in Chrome and display on the TV in the living room.

It's a strict subset of English, so easily learnable, and if you include a few clear variations (e.g. OK Google, use Chrome to open The Register on the living room TV), no-one's really going to notice that they're not able to say it every which way, because they'll get what they want done easily and quickly enough.

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GarageBanned: Apple's music app silenced in iOS 11 iCloud blunder

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Let's remain calm and reasonable, people!

You can use Garageband as a simple multitrack, if you want, and given that it's free with any iOS device, if you need a multitrack recorder, why not use it? (In fact, the original Garageband was pretty much just a multitrack with a couple of extra functions!)

Garageband is definitely not mutually incompatible with real instruments.

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US Congress mulls first 'hack back' revenge law. And yup, you can guess what it'll let people do

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Femto-poll

Who let all those cats out onto the information superhighway? There's going to be a pretty messy accident...

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: ACDC?

...but not Breakin the Rules, sadly.

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Drone smacks commercial passenger plane in Canada

The Indomitable Gall
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Joke

Re: How is it different

@AC:

" That's whataboutism and you know it. "

Ah, but what about you getting the word "whatabouttery" wrong...?

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Video games used to be an escape. Now not even they are safe from ads

The Indomitable Gall
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When I'm playing games on my iPad, I normally just switch on flight mode before I open the app. Does the trick. But then I feel guilty about the developers....

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Footie ballsup: Petition kicks off to fix 'geometrically impossible' street signs

The Indomitable Gall
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Global rise in sea level...?

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Metric please

" How long is a stadia, pray? "

How long is a pieces of string?

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Metric please... WTF, who cares

@MyBackDoor:

" Why not just drop both of those marks and have it say "Stadium -->". "

Because it's two-and-a-quarter miles away, which is almost 20 stadia. Duh!

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How much for that Belkin cable? Margin of 1,992%?

The Indomitable Gall
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@wyatt

" To an extent I agree, however when you look at how the cable is comprised there can be a number of differences. Quality of the connectors and the gauge of the wire are all factors which a cheap cable may scrimp on meaning slower charge times and other issues. "

The problem is that many pricey cables in shops are just cheap cables in a nice packet.

The only objective measure of USB cable quality is resistance on the +5V line -- a poor cable will have a higher resistance, meaning slower charging. Funnily enough, even though I own a multimeter, I've never checked my cables for this... must start doing so.

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The Indomitable Gall
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I went into a computer shop to get a USB cable as I had bought a wireless printer, which naturally didn't come with a USB cable (wireless, innit?) but needed one once for the initial setup. I was fully expecting to pay about a quarter again the price of the printer, as I didn't have time to wait for a £1 one from an Amazon trader or fleabay.

So imagine my surprise when instead of pulling out some nicely labelled oversized bag, the guy in the shop pulled a slightly battered cardboard box out from under the counter, shuffled around, pulled out a cable in cheap cellophane and asked "Will that do?"

I can't remember what he charged me for it, but he instantly became my first recommendation for computer repairs.

A) because he was honest enough that I wouldn't expect him to fleece customers

B) because he clearly had a successful enough business that he didn't feel the need to fleece customers on the day-to-day stuff.

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Web uni says it will get you a tech job or your money back. So our man Kieren signed up...

The Indomitable Gall
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Degree equivalence...?

So if the company is considered equivalent to a degree in France, why didn't they just go the whole hog and become accredited as a private university, then just issue their degrees worldwide as a distance learning institution?

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Forget the 'simulated universe', say boffins, no simulator could hit the required scale

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Who cares - the real question is

Oh god.... you've just given me a terrible thought...

...what if the device we're being simulated on is used in a higher-dimensional episode of "Will It Blend"...?

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: The human brain itself is a simulator of the universe

Don't you mean "there is no spoon"...?

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Simluator

" The simulation argument applies Occam's razor. It proposes that one of 3 things must be true, and the other two seem at least as implausible as the simulation hypothesis. "

Nope -- it's just a shoulder shrug. Just like the deity solution, it postulates the unprovable.

Testable theories can be considered secular in the traditional sense in that they only concern themselves with the mechanics of the physical realm -- most of our science originates in the secular philosophy of religious scientists.

While the simulation hypothesis is not "religious" per se, it is certainly not secular, and it's just as impossible to prove or disprove as any deity.

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What is the probability of being drunk at work and also being tested? Let's find out! Correctly

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: and in the real world

@jmch:

" in the real world, drunk guy* will just pull a sickie

somehow, it's always a guy, I've never seen a woman drunk at work "

Does not compute. If you see drunk guys at work, but never drunk women, who do you think is taking sickies again?

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Commodore 64 makes a half-sized comeback

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: I predict

That depends. If they've licensed the FPGA C64 recreation that went into a TV-game joystick unit a while back, then the engineering's all done, and there's really very little work to do.

But if they're doing software emulation, then the whole beast of timing issues and inaccurate emulation raises its ugly head.

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3D selfies? What could possibly go wrong?

The Indomitable Gall
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" Apple say there's a 1 in a million chance of it being fooled by the wrong face "

Except that of the billions of people in the world, the ones who look most like me are the ones likely to visit the same houses as me at Christmas time...

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Why Uber isn't the poster child for capitalism you wanted

The Indomitable Gall
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@ I ain't Spartacus

" eventually their tech will be beaten by some other system that consumers are happy with. "

Better tech's all well and good, but the problem with competitiveness in a modern data-driven company is that the incumbents all have a backlog of data and an embedded userbase that no-one else does.

YouTube already knows what videos I like to watch, and can hook me for hours with recommendation after recommendation. Any new competitor wouldn't be able to trap me on their site for anywhere near the same amount of time.

Google augments its processing of my words with knowledge of my history, so search results are more relevant to me. No new competitor would be able to provide me with better results than Google, even if their tech was perfect, because they're lacking that data, and short-term convenience wins.

The article points out that Uber's big advantage is this same one -- they know people's habits and they know usage patterns, and new entrants start off on the back foot as they don't have any of that.

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Chairman Zuck ends would-be president Zuck's political career

The Indomitable Gall
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No, when the puppet can talk for itself its nose grows when it lies.

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Python explosion blamed on pandas

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Execution speed...

@AC:

" When talking about science, it is best to avoid hyperbole and exaggeration. Is python a sometimes convenient tool? Yes. Is it helpful to have iin some situations? Absolutely. Is it a "game changer"? Hell, no. "

That's every bit as strong a statement as the one you're seeking to refute.

In the early days of computer programming, most people were just scheduling batch jobs (hence "programming") using a scripting language.

The problem is, most shell scripting languages are rubbish. Most attempts at more powerful shell scripting languages (e.g. Tcl) were contorted, byzantine affairs. Javascript was clumsy to start off with, and when people tried to put it into the shell, if just felt weird.

What is often overlooked is that Python is a shell scripting language, and it manages to maintain a pretty high level of flexibility and power while still being more learner-friendly than most languages.

When people complain about its lack of speed, they're kind of missing the point, because in applications like data science, all the heavy lifting is done by libraries, which are generally compiled C code.

Python with Pandas is a bit like a massively updated version of using calling grep from a bash script.

It has changed the game.

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You forgot that you hired me and now you're saying it's my fault?

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Ah, 'booking'

@CrazyOldCatMan

"Service Desk" really shouldn't be used as a synonym for "helpdesk".

The idea of a service desk is supposed to be that you don't need to know which number you've got to call to get someone to fix your computer/the photocopier/the coffee machine/the toilet that doesn't flush. From a business perspective, it makes a whole load of sense to have one group of people who know where to direct all calls to, because it stops the employees from wasting an entire morning trying to find out how the hell you get a particular problem resolved.

I say that as someone who's been on both sides of the phone. The last thing you want as an IT guy is to be called "service desk" (as the number of irrelevant calls goes up) and when something goes wrong in an IT company, there's more chance you'll be needing non-IT services than IT (because it's quicker to just fix an IT problem yourself than wait for a ticket to get through the call handling system).

It may seem pedantic, but I genuinely like the idea of a proper service desk, and it irritates me to know that abuse of the term leads to lack of awareness of the concept, and me having to do the constant runaround to find out who the hell deals with X, Y or Z.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Powerpoint - 'boring on-screen business wank'

@DropBear

" Hey, guns don't kill people, people kill people. Don't blame the tool, blame the corporate culture full of tools who think meetings are how work gets done... "

The problem is (as Professor Emeritus Edward Tufte argues -- https://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_pp) that PowerPoint encourages through it layout options, workflow and template structure, a certain way of working that doesn't mesh with how the human brain works. And then you get style guides and corporate templates that compound that problem.

Meetings do get work done, but the word "meeting" implies some reciprocity. The single biggest problem with PowerPoint is its fixed, linear nature. A presentation given using PowerPoint is so rigid that it removes any opportunity for anything other than superficial interaction between the presenter and the audience. It also disempowers the presenter, making him or her a slave to the slides... even if they were his or her slides in the first place.

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Shock: Brit capital strips Uber of its taxi licence

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: TAXI licence?

I don't think they were ever going to get away with calling themselves a riding-sharing service in the UK -- there was already too much regulation in place for them to skip it.

That regulation made Blablacar very cautious when they moved into the UK market, and they used the HMRC's mileage allowance as a benchmark for what is considered driving for profit or not, which was entirely sensible and ensured that Blablacar would never be profitable for drivers, and would only offset and mitigate costs.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Boo hoo for Uber

People? See this is what you're missing: Uber isn't "people", it's a platform. Rules only apply to people, not platforms. Particularly disruptive ones.

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Compsci degrees aren't returning on investment for coders – research

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Still seems worth it

I know a guy who makes a good living writing software and doesn't have a CS degree. He does, however, have an astrophysics degree, and what he programs is code for space missions. I also know a woman who retired early after programming financial models and doesn't have a CS degree. She does, however, have a degree in stats and actuarial maths.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Not necessarily

" you get a good code monkey, but without the knowledge of fundamentals like functional analysis, fsms, graph theory, probability and stats, etc. Not that the recent crop of "industry oriented" CS degrees do that anyway. "

AKA mortgaging the future for short-term profit.

Why did we give in to the companies and turn a degree into a 3 or 4 year training course for the first few years of employment, at the cost that now our grads don't have the skills to innovate?

A CS grad should be able to innovate and apply principles -- the goal of CS isn't to create infinite code monkeys.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Lies, damned lies and statistics

The median salary is worthless without looking at how many coders are in each sample.

If it's easier to get into coding with a degree, then our median is misleading -- because we're not including "unemployed" as a zero-salary datapoint.

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UK PC prices have risen 30% in a year since the EU referendum

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Hmmm

" Despite the currency fluctuatiion et al, I still can't help thinking Apple, M$, Samsung etc have just used this as a bloody good excuse to increase margins and shaft UK punters at the same time. "

Well that would be a legitimate claim if it wasn't cheaper to buy Apple products in the UK that in Europe. This is particularly surprising given that they've just launched a new product range.

The base iPhone 8 costs £699 (€788) at UK RRP or €829 (£735) in Ireland. It's not a huge difference, but it's in our favour... so it seems a tiny bit paranoid to cry "price gouging"...

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: What the CONTEXT analyst (& the article) skipped over

I think you mean what you skipped over, because the article I read specifically made a point of comparing the prices rises on continental Europe over the same period to identify the part of the UK price rise that can be attributed to currency differences.

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NASA Earthonauts emerge from eight-month isolation in simulated Mars visit

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Makes a note ... new business idea

Amazon's Mars delivery will be hampered by the thin atmosphere, so their drones won't fly.

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Facebook posts put Pharma Bro Martin Shkreli in prison as a danger to society

The Indomitable Gall
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" Fuck over millions of sick people, that's capitalism. Threaten to pull the hair of one of the sociopaths that be*? Go in guns blazing "

Calling in bomb threats is highly disruptive, and therefore a crime even where there is no actual bomb.

The tweets in question were very similar. Any credible threat against a public figure becomes a massive cost and inconvenience to the security services. Her security detail will have to be increased as attempts to pull a hair cannot be readily distinguished from attempts to do more serious harm until it's too late; and anyone who genuinely wants to get close enough to do real harm might see the hair-grab thing as a useful smokescreen for a serious attack.

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Menace to society? I think not.

" Funny how nobody complained when the Chaos Computer Club were asking for DNA samples of prominent politicians. "

Were the members of the Chaos Computer Club up for bail hearings on felony charges?

This didn't happen because he was some kind of special case -- we heard about it because he's some kind of special case.

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The Indomitable Gall
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" Hey! Calling him Pharma Bro is a slap in the face to all bros everywhere. The proper term is pharmadouche. "

I find that people who refer to themselves/each other as "bros" are likely to be referred to by others as "douches" anyway.

And to localise that into en_GB, people who refer to themselves/each other as "lads" are likely to be referred to by others as "twats".

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User worked with wrong app for two weeks, then complained to IT that data had gone missing

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Ped-ANT-ic typo in title

" Typo pendant spots massive ants in title! "

Where can I get a typo pendant? My girlfriend's a massive geek and always complains that I never buy her any jewellery....

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Microsoft says it won't fix kernel flaw: It's not a security issue. Suuuure

The Indomitable Gall
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Re: So since Microsoft are not concerned about the security of windows,

" Ahhh, ok ... from the EULA:

If your local law allows you to recover damages from the manufacturer or installer, or Microsoft, even though this agreement does not, you cannot recover more than you paid for the software (or up to $50 USD if you acquired the software for no charge). "

Which is equally meaningless, because if local law allows you to recover damages, it allows you to recover damages, and it's extremely rare that the damages caused will be limited to the price of the original product bought....

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Everyone loves programming in Python! You disagree? But it's the fastest growing, says Stack Overflow

The Indomitable Gall
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Ah, yield... generator functions are great.

A couple of years ago I was trying to do some text generation that included multiple correct solutions. As a total hack, I took my object model and added a toProlog method to each object and yes, seriously, I had part of the code convert everything to Prolog and then ran the search in Sicstus. It was a monumentally crazy hack and led to weeks of debugging. When I later realised that by shoving a yield statement and iterating on all results from the generator functions called from each function, I could do exact same thing in Python much quicker and with far fewer lines of code.

Generator functions are a good example of a core element of the Python design philosophy -- it enables you to work with datasets of virtually unlimited size, producing ad hoc code to process them.

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Dolphins inspire ultrasonic attacks that pwn smartphones, cars and digital assistants

The Indomitable Gall
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Does the boss use an HDMI adaptor to display presentations from his phone...?

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The Indomitable Gall
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Re: Why?

The key concept in the article is "non-linearity" -- in the oversimplified version, things don't act as you'd expect.

Sound does many, many funky things. If you expose a computer microphone to a sound above the frequency your computer can sample, it creates interference patterns at a lower frequency, within the audible range.

Now, if your target has active noise-cancelling circuitry, it's designed to detect and remove frequencies acting in predictable ways, and enhance short-lived sounds in the frequency range of human speech. The hack is mindboggling in the mathematics involved, but the underlying principles (lost harmonics, ghost signals etc) are all well-established.

Suffice it to say that you couldn't do this with analogue electronics -- computer processing is most definitely required.

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