* Posts by Daedalus

667 posts • joined 15 Oct 2009

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Take my advice and stop using Rubik's Cubes to prove your intelligence

Daedalus
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The missing link

"xkcd:" should be a registered application layer protocol all by itself!

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Daedalus
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Re: 1970s?

Dix-neuf cent quatre vingts alors!!!

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It's all a matter of time: Super-chill atomic clock could sniff gravitational waves, dark matter

Daedalus
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QM is hard!

electrons oscillated by jumping between energy levels

Not exactly. Electrons are not thought of as oscillating in any sense when they are bound to atoms. Indeed, it was the very idea that they were oscillating that caused so much trouble back in the 1900's, since by Maxwell's equations they should radiate constantly while "orbiting" the nucleus.

Atoms emit photons when the electrons around the nucleus change state. This is expressed as the entire ensemble changing state, not just one electron.

Ytterbium and other "rare earths" have a special property: some of their transitions are extremely precise because the electron states are unaffected by the environment, which tends to smear out the energy levels of other elements. This is used commonly in glassblowers goggles, that are able to filter out just the yellow glow of hot sodium and nothing else, making it easier to see the work.

It's the narrow spectral line, and the cold temperature, that enables the ytterbium to be used as a clock here.

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Baroness Trumpington, former Bletchley Park clerk, dies aged 96

Daedalus
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Re: Advocatus Diaboli

The war generation are worthy of your respect. No caveats. No buts.

Waugh didn't think so. Many of his characters from the WW2 stories are back-scratchers and black market customers. I'll take S. Milligan Esq. over Trumpington any day.

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Daedalus
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Re: Advocatus Diaboli

It gets better. The protagonist of Waugh's "Put Out More Flags", an ironic look at the Phoney War, is called Alistair Trumpington.

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Daedalus
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Advocatus Diaboli

Isn't this the sort of privileged life story we're supposed to look back on with, at best, mixed feelings nowadays? What exactly did she do for the Tories to get her title? She's a character out of Evelyn Waugh's canon, and not one of the nicer ones. Maybe not even a Mrs. Stitch, whose power could be used for good or evil. She sounds more like Guy Crouchback's wayward wife than some delicate English rose.

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Wombats literally sh!t bricks – and now boffins reckon they know how

Daedalus
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Re: Finally we know...

For the sake of the not-so-old-fogies, here is a link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Curse_of_the_Flying_Wombat

Sadly for many impressionable 1960's teenagers, myself included, this 13 part serial adventure, featured in "I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again", fizzled out into silliness and we never did find the Green Eye of the Little Yellow Dog. We did get introduced to immortal characters, particularly the gargantuan Lady Constance de Coverlet, the oily Grimbling, and John Cleese's inner genius, Masher Wilkins. Long may they reign.

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Daedalus
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Re: Wombats shit bricks?

Try the guy who made bunnies poop jelly beans.

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Daedalus
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Finally we know...

...what The Curse of the Flying Wombat was all about.

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Where to implant my employee microchip? I have the ideal location

Daedalus
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Enter at rear

There's a reddit post from a security tester showing how to beat entry locks.

1. Find door outside which smokers congregate.

2. Create suitable incident to get somebody outside (like setting off a car alarm).

3. Pretending to be talking animatedly on cell phone, wait for door to open and dash inside.

After that, it's "adopt local color, make like a maint. guy etc." Infallible.

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Daedalus
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Everything old is new again

Regarding Dabbsy's likely preferred location for an implant, I can reveal that decades ago I worked at a company with contactless card readers for entry through the back door, outside of which were other vital facilities. Since the staff were mostly male, and the card reader was at just the right height for a back pocket, the Bum Bump Dance was far and away the most popular way of re-entering hell after a short stay in ablutionist heaven.

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Empire state of mind: NYC scatters palm leaves for Bezos' cloudy web shop juggernaut

Daedalus
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Re: DC and MD are the big winners

I've long said there should be a federal law banning tax incentives

Sorry to say there is little constitutional authority for that. I won't say none, because "interstate commerce" seems to be a pretty elastic term these days, so in theory preferential treatment for one company over another could be seen as some kind of illegal tariff on interstate commerce. While states can control import of "intoxicating liquors" they have no control over other things, though they can tax just about anything within their borders.

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Daedalus
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Palm greasing Sunday?

Just wait until NYC finds out how much its zanna is going to get hosed.

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Two fool for school: Headmaster, vice principal busted for mining crypto-coins in dorms, classrooms

Daedalus
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SETI is old hat

The cool kids now run Einstein@Home to process gravitational wave detector data.

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Daedalus
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Re: Proofreading......

Chinese names being what they are, I suspect that the perps' family names are respectively Lei and Wang, and the article is doing the equivalent of calling them Fred and Barney instead of Thompson and Thomson (or Dupond and Dupont for originalists).

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Townsfolk left deeply unsatisfied by Bury St Edmunds' 'twig' of a Christmas tree

Daedalus
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Re: In full respect to the article wording...

You are Alistair Dabbs and I claim my 5 quid.

(Make it 50 will you. Inflation and all that sort of thing)

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Six lawsuits against FCC's 5G idiocy – that $2bn windfall for telcos – is bundled into one appeals court sueball

Daedalus
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It ain't all about poor cities and states

Imagine you're going along the road, and you find that One Horse Town, South Dakota, has set up its own tollbooth. Would be annoying, but it's not legal anyway so it doesn't happen.

Contrast that with One Horse Town being host to a cell tower and dinging cell providers and resellers with arbitrary taxes on calls that relay through that tower. Now the good people of One Horse Town can't hope to collect the taxes themselves, but they can employ collection agencies who have the wherewithal to do so, for a percentage off the top of course. This is the situation in the US.

So if the Feds push a scheme to limit local fees on network infrastructure, you can see where they are coming from.

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Dell upping its margins again: Precision 5530 laptop will sting you for $13m. Yep, six zeroes

Daedalus
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It's the Banksy model

Turn it on and it shreds itself.

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Daedalus
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They made a mistake in the price

It wasn't pounds sterling, it was Venezuelan bolivars.

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US draft bill moots locking up execs who lie about privacy violations

Daedalus
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Re: No "right to be forgotten"

Oddly, there already is a bill with the same name (S.2188 - Consumer Data Protection Act/H.R.4544 Consumer Data Protection Act), also submitted by a Democrat. Poor coordination?

Nothing odd or poorly coordinated about it. It's common for each chamber to start its own bill. For one thing, if each goes to debate, then the respective sponsors will have an idea how they are going to fare before the final bill is put to both chambers. Of course this involves the dreaded Conference Committee, where a small minority of congress-critters essentially has carte blanche to do what they want and present the result to both chambers on a take it or leave it basis.

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Daedalus
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A little more checking please

Bills get introduced all the time. The big question is how many sponsors they have where they are introduced, and whether the leadership of that branch of the legislature will let them move forward.

Note that this "draft bill" arrives just before an election. It's doubtful if there will be any debate about it before the end of this Congress, or whether it will be re-submitted in the next one in January.

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Nikola Tesla's greatest challenge: He could measure electricity but not stupidity

Daedalus
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Re: Fifty Pound Note

What about Joseph Priestley then? Always ignoring Yorkshiremen, those bloody southerners.

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Daedalus
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Re: the English language's infuriating but amusing propensity to conjure ambiguity out of thin air

An amusing example of this is "The Wizard-Masters of Peng-shi Angle", a back-translation of a bootleg Chinese translation of Frederik Pohl's satirical short "The Wizards of Pung's Corners". The translator who brought it back to English had no knowledge of the original story. The plot mostly survived but a lot of American advertising jargon from the original was almost unrecognizable.

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Daedalus
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Shocking facts

The smartest thing Tesla did was to get out of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when it took three layers of over-promoted idiot manglers to figure out where to put a junction box.

Serbia may have born and educated him, but the USA brought him to his glory.

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Microsoft claims Office 364 back to business as usual. Oh no it isn't, say suffering sysadmins

Daedalus
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Re: Wrong name?

More like Office 420

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Woman who hooked up with over 15 spectres has found her forever phantom after whirlwind romance and plane sex

Daedalus
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Re: "Amethyst Realm", really?

I can't help thinking of the "Red Woman", aka Melisandre, and her immaculate conceptions.

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Daedalus
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Spooky Action

Cytoplasm + Ectoplasm = Excytogasm

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Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

Daedalus
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The Sound of Silence

You do realize, don't you, that if you are in an office full of computers that chime in unison for e-mail, that you could probably stealthily mute all of them in one way or another, and nobody would know how to restore the sound!

This also explains the habit of leaving the phone on the desk when attending meetings: the average drone has no idea how to mute the phone for a meeting, so leaves it behind instead.

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Daedalus
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The Distaff Sound

I'm willing to bet that the majority of commenters are (a) male, and (b) inclined to carry their phone either in their pocket or on a belt holster.

On the other hand, there is a large segment of the population who, when not using the phone for endless tapping on virtual keyboards or sharing their life story with everybody in earshot (seriously, when I was in the emergency room awaiting test results was it really necessary for me to hear the lady in the next cube dissing her daughter in one call after another?), place it in the bottom of a large bag containing the rest of life's necessities.

How are such unfortunates supposed to receive calls if not with an audible signal? Assuming, of course, that they ever remove the phone from their ear in the first place....

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The march of Amazon Business has resellers quaking in their booties

Daedalus
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Re: In related news....

Possibly thanks to POS-neck disorder, a lot of Sears staff are indeed significantly younger than they used to be. On the other hand, the equally doomed K-Mart staff were visibly older than you'd expect, before the axe fell.

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Daedalus
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Re: Shut it down

I got news for you: before Amazon there were only a few retail outfits, but they traded under a lot of different names. Amazon aren't playing a new game. They're just outplaying all the old gamers.

Retail has long been a nasty oligopoly with cozy supplier-vendor relations. Bribery, in the form of "rebates" and other jiggery-pokery, was common to ensure prominent product placement in the stores. Suppliers themselves, especially in the grocery area, were and still are large conglomerates owning many brands.

The real problem is that Amazon are so good at what they do that all the potential competition may die out before getting a chance to adjust.

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Daedalus
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In related news....

Sears is filing for bankruptcy in the USA.

Now on the one hand Sears was one of the few stores where you had a shot at finding what you needed, rather than what they wanted to sell you. Their vulnerability was the high cost of keeping all that stock, but also the incompetence of their online operation who offered nothing more than was in the store. They could have been a major competitor to Amazon, having the warehouse infrastructure from their catalogue operations, but old-line management just can't adapt to technology.

Other retailers who concentrate on selling sizzle rather than steak deserve everything they get. And they've been getting it: Macy's etc.

Funny thing about Sears: they upgraded all their POS terminals so the screen was closer to eye level, but their aging staff got cricks in their necks from tilting their heads back to see through their bifocals...

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Take my advice: The only safe ID is a fake ID

Daedalus
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Re: My tuppence worth

There's a character in a Restoration comedy sporting the last name "Gotobed", with all the innuendo implied. The part was once played by a certain Mandy Rice-Davies, of whom you may have heard.

Who more shocked than I to discover that "Gotobed" is a real name sported by real people. Maybe they pronounce it "Go-toab'd".

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Daedalus
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Re: Terrance

"Terence" ? Obviously some form of deterrence....

One Terence gained fame, fortune, a strangulated hernia, a brown paper OBE, a dose of lurgi and an epitaph in Irish under the name "Spike". You should be proud.

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Daedalus
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It's all the rage!

Let's not forget all those famous names coined by the Goons!

Hugh Jampton (lookup Hampton Wick in Cockney slang)

Singhiz Thing

Justin Eidelburger

R Pong (till 11 o'clock)

and many more....

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Self-driving cars may not have steering wheels in future, dev preview for PyTorch 1.0 is here, etc

Daedalus
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Re: What about towing trailers?

the constraints of current behaviour

There speaks someone who has no idea how unconstrained current behaviour can be.

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Daedalus
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Steering wheels are the least of our concerns

Considering what people tend to get up to when not being watched, I'd say self-driving cars should come with self-cleaning interiors. In fact, self-sterilizing interiors would be a good idea (passenger presence optional).

Early predictor of such things : Roger Zelazny, "The Dream Master"

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Daedalus
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Re: Johnny Cab

The Phildickian cab in question was in fact on Earth. Mars used traditional wetware-driven cabs.

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Why are sat-nav walking directions always so hopeless?

Daedalus
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Re: Actually most satnavs are still remarkably unreliable

Even worse are "store navs".

"Our app will show you exactly where to find the things you want to buy"

Assuming there's no promotion that week. And the inventory is up to date ("shrinkage" doesn't get automatically logged, you know). And the mucketing dept. hasn't had a brainstorm and decided to move everything around.....

Why do they offer stuff when they have no control over outcomes?

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Daedalus
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Re: Recently...

Had you forgotten the Andy Capp art of navigating by pub?

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Daedalus
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Showing waklrs the waze

It's easy enough to guide a walker. Just use AR to project a trail of breadcrumbs ahead. Or maybe power pills or Rowntrees Fruit Gums.

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Daedalus
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Re: never seems to taste the same?

Anyway the reason you can't get a decent cup of tea in Spain is they haven't invented the kettle yet.

The Americans have also yet to invent it. Every time I go to Florida on holiday I rent a place, and it always has a filter coffee machine. But no kettle. On the one or two occasions that there has been one, it has been the "put it on the hob for 4 hours until it boils" variety.

It isn't that hard to get a kettle here in the USA. It's just not on most people's radar, as they say. Thirty-odd years ago, yes it was a challenge. The nearest approximation (from Sears, of course!) was something vaguely in the shape of a coffee percolator without an obvious heating coil in it. The bottom was a metal plate that got hot somehow. Later you could wander into a "European Kitchen" store and usually find something familiar, but often lacking that nice automatic switch that pops out to tell you it's time to pour. Now we have one of those, which I helpfully turn on in the mornings on behalf of SWMBO before trekking down the drive to pick up the increasingly mis-named "newspaper".

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Attempt to clean up tech area has shocking effect on kit

Daedalus
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Re: Electrifying

Fan motors: typically they have heavy duty coils that cause current surges when starting up. Not as bad as vacuum cleaners, some of which will make your lights flicker, but in a delicate situation it's easy to see how the breaker might go off.

It might even be a shutdown surge: as the coil fields decay, they produce current that normally goes to neutral, the live side and its breaker being disconnected at the fan switch. But here fan neutral was going to live....

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Daedalus
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Re: C

To the best of my knowledge, it's only New Jersey that forbids you from pumping your own gas petrol. Which puts you in the ridiculous situation of waiting for a drone to take your credit card from you and swipe through exactly the same on-pump reader that is used in more enlightened states. Cash? Who uses cash?

As for the pump trigger lock, that is a rare luxury (except, for obvious reasons, in New Jersey). Most stations remove it because of abuse by drunken idiots etc. resulting in spills. In NJ the lock is retained so the drone can service more than one car at a time.

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Perfect timing for a two-bank TITSUP: Totally Inexcusable They've Stuffed Up Payday

Daedalus
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You can't get the wood, you know

I'm willing to predict that the bozocalypse will be felt in the UK earlier than in other countries, simply because of the talent for brilliant incompetence that is so widespread there.

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UK.gov won't Airwave bye for another 3 years, plans to phase in ESN services

Daedalus
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Weasel words

Some of us, particularly those in the education biz in the 70's, remember what ESN used to mean.

It could easily be applied to those in charge of this latest project.

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I want to buy a coffee with an app – how hard can it be?

Daedalus
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Re: In view of the site preferences

@IsJustabloke

Right back at ya.

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Daedalus
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Re: The best solution seems to be Starbucks

I tried the Starbucks order-ahead facility once. I duly chose a drink, picked a cafe from their location list, and ordered. When I arrived later that morning, the cafe was shut. It took another few days and lots of emails to get my money back. Never again.

Has to be the UK. You can't beat them for passive aggressive incompetence.

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Daedalus
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Re: Memories of Not The Nine O Clock News

Remember the distinction between the Amex charge card and the (somewhat later) Amex credit cards. The original ad simply said that you didn't need huge amounts of cash for a deposit on a rental car, for instance, if you used the charge card. It was a year or two after that here in the US that a credit card started to appear.

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Daedalus
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Re: Has anyone?

Whereas a thermos will always give you something that tastes almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

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