* Posts by Daedalus

638 posts • joined 15 Oct 2009

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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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Daedalus
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Soda jerks

The trend to ridiculously complex touch-screen operated beverage dispensers is taking hold everywhere. OK, the machine can hold 50 types of syrup for soda instead of 10, but at the cost of a hopelessly complex UI on a touch screen that inevitably fails at some level. I use two fingers together instead of one to get the screen, usually contaminated with grease or some such, to recognize it's being poked. It's best to stick to one kind of drink if you're a regular - going for the new ginger flavoured citrus cola just leads you to "not available". Thanks, id10ts. And thanks also to the procrastinators who, not content with waiting to look at the board until asked by the server what burrito they want, carefully study all the drink choices before settling on their usual liquid candy.

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Daedalus
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Re: In view of the site preferences

Nothing wrong with the iPhone at S$$$$$, at least not here in Murica. Put the S$$$$$$$$$$$$ card of your choice in the Apple Wallet, allow the wallet to appear on the lock screen, and you're all set. Well, I guess that's possibly beyond the average drone, but we're all superdrones here, aren't we chaps?

OK, it helps if I give my phone a nudge to wake it up at least 20 seconds before attempting to pay. Otherwise, no problemo.

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Daedalus
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Re: Memories of Not The Nine O Clock News

I recall the punch line: "Try using American Express on British Rail - and see how far it gets you".

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No, that Sunspot Solar Observatory didn't see aliens. It's far more grim

Daedalus
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Re: The surprising thing is....

Well, how else could I set up the BBT reference?

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Daedalus
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The surprising thing is....

...that a janitor was able to do all that stuff on the Internet, considering that CEO's and HR droids, all the way down to junior VP's of furniture arrangement, seem to have trouble understanding basic concepts like "needs electricity" and "has to be connected to something". And passwords. Oh yeah, passwords.

Betcha the janitor was a former techie in another country who couldn't get a job worthy of his skills here.

"In Russia I am professor of theoretical physics. In America I am janitor" - The Big Bang Theory.

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Man cuffed for testing fruit with bum cheek pre-purchase

Daedalus
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Coat

Bummer!

I'll get my coat....

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Has anyone seen REM lately? No, we mean rare earth minerals

Daedalus
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Re: Don't be mean to Dr. Riley - he's only vaguely wrong on one thing

Welcome back to the wizard whom some call Tim.

Regarding the "easy to separate" examples, I think that while Y is correct for Yttrium, S is sulphur. The S element in the rare earth row of the periodic table is Strontium (Sr), a calcium analogue, hence the dread of getting radioactive isotopes of it in the environment. It nestles into the bones and stays there.

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Daedalus
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Not rare at all

Some "rare earths" are more common than bismuth, an element that is so rare we routinely chug it after a hard night's drinking and eating curry.

What is difficult about these elements is separating them from each other, since they are so similar chemically. That requires a lot of treatment, and can cause a fair amount of pollution, as shown by various horror stories from eastern Europe. If we're dependent on China, it's because we prefer that they deal with the pollution and just sell us the product, thank you very much. Kind of like how we're turning a blind eye to their CO2 emissions and their self-serving announcements of "meeting targets", as long as they keep churning out cheap stuff.

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A boss pinching pennies may have cost his firm many, many pounds

Daedalus
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Re: Developer PC

>> Slow reports and breakfast breaks

Ah, the collision between technology and internal politics and procedures. Too often manglement ignore these things. You can almost be sure that a new accounting/auditing system will attract the attention of whoever is filching supplies or cooking the books. Some would say it's worth faking such a system in order to flush out anybody who is on the fiddle. Just look for whoever is sneaking in a sledge hammer....

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Daedalus
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Re: Penny pinching boss

So wait: the UK boss shafted you all on the expenses? That would be the bad outcome. If he decided not to get good visibility in the US, well, that's his choice.

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Abracadabra! Tales of unexpected sysadmagic and dabbling in dark arts

Daedalus
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Pataphysicality

The mallet-wielder's name was probably Maxwell.

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Rejoice! Thousands more kids flock to computing A-level

Daedalus
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Numbers numbers

Assuming the 2000 - 2001 cohort as 600,000 births, 10,000 taking the exam is less than 2%. Which fits my rule of thumb regarding all these "computing for all" initiatives. Yeah, you can try teaching it, but your yield rate is going to be pathetic by the standards of producing, say, general office drones.

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India's Cosmos bank raided for $13m by hackers

Daedalus
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How can this happen?

After all, India has the most cost-effective technical support people on the entire planet!

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London fuzz to get 600 more mobile fingerprint scanners

Daedalus
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Great!

Time to start a pool. Will the first instance of a "lost" scanner be on a bus, on a train, in a pub, or in one of those establishments that cater to special tastes?

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US voting systems: Full of holes, loaded with pop music, and 'hacked' by an 11-year-old

Daedalus
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Re: Florida, still & again

If the PIC want to defraud the electorate, they will. Paper ballots are no defence. Many's the time ballot boxes have gotten "lost", and other boxes with carefully prepared ballots have been "discovered".

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Daedalus
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Florida ballots

The US did just fine with paper ballots for over 200 years until the idiots in Florida couldn't figure out how to read a punch card.

To be fair, the notorious "hanging chads" were a very real issue, though the problem wouldn't have been nearly as bad if the paper ballots had been properly designed to fit into the holders. Or the holders had been made big enough to accommodate even the wildest of ballot papers. Let's be clear: the election officers are at the mercy of every interest group that can get enough signatures on a petition and pay the necessary fees. Anybody who thinks that the ballot consisted only of "Electors for Gore, Democrat" and "Electors for Bush, Republican" is severely mistaken. I wouldn't be surprised if some counties had "Cuban Exiles for Bush" on the ballot.

Nor is it fair to disparage all of Florida's counties. Some were using the same optically scanned paper ballots that have been mentioned in other comments. One officer boasted that if required to do a recount, it would take a few hours at most and would almost certainly return the same result as was already announced.

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Daedalus
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System? What system?

Yet again the lack of understanding. Each state is in charge of its own elections, period. The Feds have no business funding state election machinery. Results not good? Too bad. And note that "Secretary of State" elections are strictly for state officials, not Federal ones. Only a few states elect such an office anyway.

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Grad sends warning to manager: Be nice to our kit and it'll be nice to you

Daedalus
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Pity the poor device programmer

With printers it's the proverbial, if cliched, perfect storm. On the one hand, you've got that destroyer of technological hope, the average (l)user. On the other, you've got a less than fully functional low level system cobbled together from one of the runts of the *nix litter, if that. Busybox, or perhaps some bastard offspring of a port from one of those AT&T systems that remarkably failed to find any market traction. Throw in marketing demanding every feature that their hallucinogen of choice causes them to think of, and you've got a situation in which allowing for everything that might happen when the luser changes paper suddenly stops being a priority. The wonder is that the things work at all.

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Daedalus
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Re: Elphin safety

"Every once in a while, Crowley picks a plant that is not growing too well and carries it around the flat to the other plants, telling them “‘Say goodbye to your friend. He just couldn’t cut it…'”

Taking a cue from Nick Revell, I think.

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UK 'fake news' inquiry calls for end to tech middleman excuses, election law overhaul

Daedalus
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A Very British Problem

Demands for transparency when most institutions preach more than they practise. (UK spelling and damn the spell checker)

Demands for honesty and clarity in a society where most of the better off prefer to run and hide.

Demands for control in a society that pays lip service to freedom.

No such problems exist in Europe, with its traditions of authoritarianism.

Maybe this is just MP's venting. They like to do that.

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You want to know which is the best smartphone this season? Tbh, it's tricky to tell 'em apart

Daedalus
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Hmmm

Increasingly for the past few years, this has been a market desperately in need of some innovation.

Actually the constant reinvention of the smartphone is getting to be a case of change for its own sake, or rather the sake of maintaining high prices and margins. I suppose the nearest comparison would be the planned obsolescence of cars, not to mention the arms race of strange features (fins, anybody?) before the oil shocks concentrated minds on a different topic. Why make something efficient, practical and durable when you can guarantee it will be traded in within a few years?

Yes, once the technology plateaus the sales droids and marketeers will have to sell differently. The companies will have to content themselves with margins in the low double digits, if that, unless of course there's a quasi-monopoly a la Kodak in film (but that didn't last, haha). And reviewers will have to find other reasons for dishing out superlatives.

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Nah, it won't install: The return of the ad-blocker-blocker

Daedalus
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Back to the Future

The ludicrousness of the whole thing was encapsulated in the first BTTF movie when Marty McFly got the name "Calvin Klein" based on the jeans he was wearing.

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Daedalus
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We need Diminished Reality

It's simple. Like Zaphod Beeblebrox, you wear sunglasses that block out anything you don't want to see. This is actually doable, if you don't mind carrying high-end AI around with you. A camera mounted on your sunglasses scans the field of view for logos and icons, and active optics conceal them from your vision.

Of course it could get a bit awkward moving around if advertising takes up most of your field of view, but then the AI can also project helpful visual cues so you can dodge bus shelters, dogs, and oncoming moped bandits.

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Shock Land Rover Discovery: Sellers could meddle with connected cars if not unbound

Daedalus
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And the bozocalypse continues

When will the people who come up with these technological miracles realize that they will be handled, used, abused and confused by people whose main motivation in life is getting to beer o'clock?

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No, seriously, why are you holding your phone like that?

Daedalus
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By George I've got it!

Why do they hold their phones that way? Because they're not thinking of them as phones anymore! The things are text messagers, video viewers and music players. Heck, add a drug dispensing option and you've got Fred Pohl's "Joymaker"! Seriously, we've reached the era of The Phoning Dead, with dedicated Phone Zombie lanes in cities for those too fascinated by their screens to register that there is a world around them. Personally I'd mine the lanes or install leg traps, but you can't have everything.

So pity the horizontal slab wielders. They have passed beyond humanity and joined the Overmind. Let's hope they get raptured soon.

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Notes/Domino is alive! Second beta of version 10 is imminent

Daedalus
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K is for....

Working a Kontract some time ago for a Kompany that latterly Kontracted Konspicuously, I was surprised to be Konfronted with Lotus Notes for two reasons. First why would anyone use such a Kludge, and why was this notoriously insular Kompany not using a home-grown piece of garbage with a name beginning with "K", as it did so often.

Notes was in play for e-mail, bug reporting, doKuments and just about everything else on the sorry misbegotten lost-its-way projeKt I was on. Surprisingly, you could sKript it in - wait for it - Visual BasiK!

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East Midlands network-sniffer wails: Openreach, fix my outage-ridden line

Daedalus
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Re: Electricity insulator failure

Thermal camera? More than their job's worth, mate!

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Daedalus
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ObPython

Every time I read these sad complaints I remember the sketch with the endless line of men in flat caps and brown work coats, cig in mouth and pencil behind ear, debating which form to use to get the gas line fixed.

Nothing changes.

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