* Posts by Daedalus

591 posts • joined 15 Oct 2009

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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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Sysadmin cracked military PC’s security by reading the manual

Daedalus
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Their part in his downfall

It's 1942. Artillery sergeant is teaching gunners how to fire a machine gun. Sgt asks if anybody has fired one before.

S. Milligan Esq continues the narrative: "I had but I said nothing. In the Army never volunteer for ANYTHING." - from "Adolf Hitler, My Part in his Downfall" by Spike Milligan (sorely missed).

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Microsoft CEO wades into ICE outcry: Cool it, we only do legacy mail

Daedalus
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Solution

CEO publishes picture of self pointing to exit from building.

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UK footie fans furious as Sky Broadband goes TITSUP: Total inability to stream unfair penalties

Daedalus
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Tum tee tum

This event was actually predicted by The Archers, when the villagers gathered in The Bull suddenly and mysteriously lost the video of the match. Ambridge is, of course, somewhere in the Midlands.

Since the scripts are written and the episodes recorded weeks ahead of time, we must stand amazed at their clairvoyance.

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Developer’s code worked, but not in the right century

Daedalus
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Re: Because computer dates are numbers but real dates aren't

Julian or Gregorian?

You're confusing the Julian calendar with the Julian Day. The calendar is extinct, but the Julian day is used in various settings as a date that is the same across all calendars.

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

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Microsoft tries cutting the Ribbon in Office UI upgrade

Daedalus
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Re: "OK I understand that people didn't like it when it was introduced, ..."

(2) It doesn't allow you to remove functions you don't need.

Not quite true. You can "Customize the ribbon" and pretty much lay waste to it by turning off tabs or removing elements from tabs. However leaving only the things you actually want can be a tedious job. I put a section in the Home tab to contain the stuff I use most of the time, so I don't have to switch tabs to get at it.

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Daedalus
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Re: Why do I smell...

"if it isn't broke, don't fix it!"

In some ways Word is broke(n), and has been since, oh, 1990. There are annoyances from back then that persist. But worse, lots of stuff that worked brilliantly back then (and in less than 1Mb!), like outlining and header levels, is a shambles now. Yeah you can get where you want to go eventually, but you have to deal with a boatload of crap. The default paragraph styles are mostly useless, the list of styles in the ribbon bears no relation to what you need or have been using in the document so far, and figuring out where a particular command resides on the toolbar is a pain. Why couldn't they find the 20 most common things people do and feature them? That's my idea of UX design. Instead it was probably designed by the promotion-seekers with the loudest voices.

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IBM to GTS: We want you to 'rotate' clients every two years

Daedalus
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Expectation vs. Reality

If other examples are anything to go by, what could be a "rotate carefully based on individual needs etc." would become a "rotate out 20% every six months regardless" scenario. Horror tales abound of companies bringing in efficiency experts who say "we can reduce costs X%". The companies then ignore all the changes recommended in favour of an X% cut in staff and budgets across the board.

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Deck the halls with HALs: AI steals the show at Infosec Europe

Daedalus
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Please

Every time there's a Big Thing the other vendors trot out a version of their Thing as being the thing the Big Thing really needs. Back when Object Orientation was the Thing, suddenly the DB salesmen were on stage pushing Object Oriented Databases. You could tell they were salesmen because they watched the audience intently as they came into the room. Gurus stand in quiet contemplation before their spiel.

Now AI is the Thing for Infosec's Big Thing. Plus ca change.

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Mailshot meltdown as Wessex Water gets sweary about a poor chap called Tom

Daedalus
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Cometh the bozocalypse

A classic example of total automation taking over and humans failing to do their diligence. You can push a button and publish a letter without thinking, so naturally people do just that. Proofreading? What's that?

If humans were more diligent about proofreading, my job reading the fine manuals and specs would be less headache-inducive. And that's the ones written by native English speakers.

Too much technology, too few technologists.

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GDPRmageddon: They think it's all over! Protip, it has only just begun

Daedalus
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If you're not with us...

Can we assume that this is going to be one of those situations where begin exempt from the rules means you have to prove you're exempt? In other words, even if you run even the most harmless and non-data-gathering business, you still have to jump through hoops to prove your right not to be hauled up before the beak?

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US websites block netizens in Europe: Why are they ghosting EU? It's not you, it's GDPR

Daedalus
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When you think about it it's hilarious

I mean privacy and freedom? In Europe? ROFLMAO!!

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Swiss sausage sizzler 4.0 hits 200 bangers per hour

Daedalus
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Needs to get out more

If he'd been in many US eateries he would have seen frankfurters spinning away on hot rollers decades ago.

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Brit reseller Aria PC mounts appeal against £750k taxman VAT fiddle ruling

Daedalus
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Did you ever notice...

...that almost everything we got from the EEC/EU has been the target of shell games and other shenanigans? VAT claim-backs, ships docking only long enough to tie up, untie and head back, to avoid some arcane customs rule at great profit...

Maybe the real problem is that these rules, laws and taxes are basically not fit for purpose. Maybe the problem is that utopian meddlers conceived these things without regard for the true nature of people, or just sat back and said, "Well, it might take a bureaucratic police state to make it work, but we have plenty of experience with that."

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Das blinkenlights are back thanks to RPi revival of the PDP-11

Daedalus
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Feature needed

A true PDP-11 clone requires a feature where you can pay a huge amount of money to somebody to pull a jumper off a board, granting you access to more memory.

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Daedalus
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Re: I cut my teeth on a PDP-11

Let's not forget the joys of overlay swapping to squeeze the most out of that 64K. I eventually came up with some rather creative tricks that you might call "minimal root" where instead of common code being at the base overlay, there were multiple occurrences out on the ends of branches. This cured the "blob effect" where all the code used by more than one module migrated to the base and used up all the address space before you'd even loaded anything useful. It was also good for making all the init code disappear when no longer needed.

Of course we now have the Great Blob Object where all the "must have" features migrate up to the godlike object class from which all other object classes must descend. The only cure for that is carefully used multiple inheritance - but nobody knew how to use that safely.

Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

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Want to know what an organisation is really like? Visit the restroom

Daedalus
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What are these "restrooms" of which you speak?

Well I guess the apocalypse is upon us and American euphemisms are now global. Being resident in the USA I'm used to it but I held out the hope that in the UK, "convenience" was still in use even if "toilet" was, er, down the drain. I could at least hope that "bathroom" was as far as the UK had reached in its descent into merkinish. Bring back the Ladies n' Gents, ladies n' gents!

I occasionally tell USAnians that every word replaced by a euphemism in this context was itself a euphemism. What are they going to use when the current word becomes distasteful?

Fun fact: in several places it was legally mandated for the women's "rest room" to have an actual couch in it.

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Surface Hub 2: Microsoft's pricey whiteboard gets a sequel

Daedalus
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Re: PiWall?

I do not want to be the tech who gets called in when marketing can't do their presentation on that one.

In related news, over a decade ago I worked at a client that had a setup I called the "War Room" (as in the movie "War Games") with a high wall equipped with a few dozen large screens showing everything from CNN to stock and commodity prices.

It belonged to a grocery supermarket chain.

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Daedalus
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Inevitably...

"Have you tried turning the whiteboard off and on again?"

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Bowel down: Laxative brownies brought to colleague's leaving bash

Daedalus
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But seriously folks....

I'm always amazed at how people drift into the kitchen or snack area, spot something potentially yummy on the table, and chow down without a second thought. Admittedly in companies where you can get to the snackeria easily there's not much incentive to cause trouble unless there's a personal vendetta, whereas companies that might deserve a "run" for their money are pretty good at restricting outsiders, sometimes to the point of offending potential clients (like a certain formerly large USA photographic corporation).

On another note a quick glance at the Glassdoor entry for the company in question indicates a certain amount of internal dysfunction. Perhaps the incident was the canary in the coalmine.

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Your software hates you and your devices think you're stupid

Daedalus
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Re: Non determinism

Most irksome are needlessly animated elements, that require timers, that for some reason don't always work. So in an effort to be flashy, basic functionality is sacrificed.

In ancient times I reviewed a certain personal finance program for the local PC club. It was the newer snazzier version for DOS and mostly worked well. When I cut a cheque with it and pressed Go, the cheque image scrolled slowly upward to reveal a new cheque underneath, instead of the entry just blanking as in the previous version.

Did I enthusiastically endorse this? Er, no. "A waste of my CPU cycles just to show off".

Of course we have cycles and gigabytes to spare these days. Which is why certain applications take 100 times as much memory and 1000 times as many cycles to do what they did 20 years ago.

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Daedalus
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Re: I just found my old MP3 player in a drawer

I look at out photocopier/scanner/printer monster in the corner of our office with terror.

Yes, the dead hand of marketing is everywhere. Most of the features are there to give the sales droid something to talk about. The buyers really just want to make copies, and the manufacturer really just wants to sell toner, or in the case of a certain formerly highly successful US company, the "document process". And in the case of marketing, well they just want to get promoted. Never met a marketeer yet who gave a damn about the user or the product.

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Daedalus
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Re: Hang the UX designer

I do embedded software, which means I deal with design-happy blue sky people and write bare metal code to make it all happen. I tell them "Go to the nearest photocopier. What's on the control panel is what has worked for 25+ years with uneducated users. Use what you see there, and nothing else. If you can make your stuff do its thing with the user just pressing a Big Green Button, then do it".

Of course they don't.

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Microsoft vows to bridge phones to PCs, and this time it means it. Honest.

Daedalus
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Oh Goody

Yes, let's add another malware vector to the network.

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Password re-use is dangerous, right? So what about stopping it with password-sharing?

Daedalus
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Just sign here....

A recently introduced "encrypted mail" scheme I have seen sends, not an e-mail, but a link to the encrypted e-mail company's site, where you register and log in to see the e-mail.

Strike 1: it's a PITA.

Strike 2: Guess these guys didn't notice that there's a lot of spear-phishing going on, not to mention the fact that e-mail security teams take a dim view of such messages.

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Daedalus
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Re: Always an angle trying to sell something

FTR John Bird is still flapping. It was one of them other satirists wot fell to Earth.

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Daedalus
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Re: Always an angle trying to sell something

The "Security Question" answers are always the same regardless of the question.

I have toyed with the idea of making all my answers "Pork!", inspired by the famous Secret Policeman's Ball sketch.**

**Spoof of schoolkid quiz shows in which John Cleese (for it is he) asks a bunch of fellow satirists in school uniforms (John Bird, may he rest in peace, is especially good) questions from a list that got sabotaged.

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Blame everything on 'computer error' – no one will contradict you

Daedalus
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Cometh the bozocalypse

Too much technology, not enough technologists.

Designed by marketeers, built by techies, sold by sales droids, used by bozos.

Wur doomed I tell ye, doomed.

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Mystery crapper comes a cropper

Daedalus
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Meet....

Noted American Anglophile David Sedaris likes to engage people who work in shops in conversation and will eventually ask "Do people defecate in your store?". Astonishingly he usually gets the answer "Oh my God yes, it happens all the time!". Sometimes it's the old gotta go, hide it under a display, other times it's right in the middle of the changing room.

"Some people are crazy" copyright (C) John Martyn RIP.

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45-day drone flights? You are like a little baby. How about a full YEAR?

Daedalus
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Hmmm

Fragile craft, detectable from miles away, hardly moving.

Yeah, perfect military surveillance craft. It's the U-2 of solar power craft. All it needs is a little missile that can get that high. Oh wait, they already exist.

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Virtual desktops won’t save cash in clouds or on-prem. So why care?

Daedalus
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Reason

The real reason isn't in the article: users are idiots. PC's have spread into areas where the users can barely tie their own shoelaces. As much as the readers of the Reg would hate having to use a VDI, the tales from tech support, along with the examples of users plugging random crap into their machines, mean that for the typical job nowadays a VDI is a must if you are going to stay out of trouble. The tradeoff is a million niggling service calls vs. a few major breaches.

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Windrush immigration papers scandal: What it didn't teach UK.gov about data compliance

Daedalus
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Can't wait....

...to see exactly how far Europe is going to indulge in rectal head-insertion when GDPR takes over.

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‘I broke The Pentagon’s secure messaging system – and won an award for it!’

Daedalus
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Re: Couldn't get away with that today

Shouldn't have gotten away with it then! Solo maintenance on mission-critical systems? And in the Pentagon, where some sections are "No Lone Zone", meaning you can't wander around unaccompanied.

Compare to working on power systems: scheduled beforehand, permits issued, systems taken down and tagged before you get near them.

That "incident" would have happened sooner or later anyway.

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Noise from blast of gas destroys Digiplex data depot disk drives

Daedalus
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It's a gas, man

Lest anybody think that 200 bar gas cylinders are out of the ordinary, they are pretty much standard for any application that uses gases such as nitrogen. They're the 5ft high, 10 in wide ones in the corner. Or if you like, the one rocketing along the street in the stupid prank video you downloaded.

Oh and if you have a CO2 cylinder, there's this great trick for making dry ice......

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There is no perceived IT generation gap: Young people really are thick

Daedalus
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Re: Thickos

What sidewalks? You must be a city boy.

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Daedalus
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Keep an eye on these youngsters

Before you know it, they'll be doing continent-wide formation dances as they join the Overmind, turning our fair planet into interdimensional energy.

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Surprise! Wireless brain implants are not secure, and can be hijacked to kill you or steal thoughts

Daedalus
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Mushroom

Sorry in advance

Allow me to be the first to say that this is totally mind-blowing, man.

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Car-crash television: 'Excuse me ma'am, do you speak English?' 'Yes I do,' replies AMD's CEO

Daedalus
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The curse of technology

This is one of those results of technology that allows "on the spot" stuff and thus gets used willy-nilly to fill in otherwise dead time, or to create a false sense of immediacy in coverage. The most infamous example in the US (of the ones not involving death or injury) happened when a well-respected political reporter was inconveniently in the studio when protocol required her to deliver her spiel live in front of some gummint building. So they green-screened her in, and she paid a hefty price for simply doing what the producer droid insisted she had to do to pacify the media gods.

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UK rocket-botherers rattle SABRE, snaffle big bucks

Daedalus
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Big wup

Getting to Mach 5 is 20% of the way to orbital speed. For the other 80% you're going to be dragging the air breathing part of the engine as so much dead weight. This is just another Big Idea project, like cargo airships, that looks sexy but doesn't add up.

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Boffins pull off quantum leap in true random number generation

Daedalus
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Just a random idea

So you base your device on the noise generated by electronic components, like say a transistor or even a neon gas tube. Your numbers would be so random you could use them to run, oh, some kind of national lottery. Call the device Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment. ERNIE see? Write the name in large, friendly letters on the outside. Heck, it's so obvious that you'd expect people to have thought of it decades ago.

Oh you can call me an optimist. Or you can call me 2AL 838710.

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C'mon, Zuck... don't make us feel second class. Come talk to us in Europe – EU politicos

Daedalus
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"Android" ?!?!?!?!?!

That's organismism. The correct term is Life Model Decoy.

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Facebook offers to crack open data for eggheads to find out how badly it's screwed democracy

Daedalus
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They're singing our song....

I need to get them off my back!

Make Quango Quango Quango Quango!

They won't find out about the hack

They're just some Quango talking heads!

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My PC makes ‘negative energy waves’, said user, then demanded fix

Daedalus
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Coat

Re: missed opportunity

If there are fluorescent lights anywhere nearby an oscilloscope will register all kinds of EM noise, especially if you turn up the sensitivity. I once helped a poor undergrad with his desperately compromised measurements by the simple act of wrapping his probe wires in, yes, tinfoil.

Hat optional.

Coat necessary.

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Daedalus
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Re: missed opportunity

You're right there was a missed opportunity! Inform cray cray lady that antennas are on the top of the building pumping out electro-magnetic-black-hole-inducing-zeta-rays. Cray Lady panics, resigns and leaves tech person in peace.

She'll get her lead lined coat now...

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My Tibetan digital detox lasted one morning, how about yours?

Daedalus
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Re: Spotted the deliberate mistake

Hot Pentangle buns?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9gCN9-Jnfg

I'm sure they were there somewhere but I didn't see them...

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Daedalus
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Spotted the deliberate mistake

Without knowing exactly what alt-religion Sir Dabbsy is into, I offer the possibility that "hot-pentangle-buns" should actually be "hot-pentagram-buns".

Not wishing to make anyone cross...

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Sysadmin shut down the wrong server, and with it all European operations

Daedalus
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Re: Soldier?

"There was I, diggin' this 'ole,

"Hole in the ground,

"So big and sorta round it was...

"And there was 'e, standing up there

"So big and important with 'is nose in the air"

They don't write songs like that anymore.....

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Don't want to alarm you, but defence bods think North Korea could nuke UK 'within a few years'

Daedalus
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Kiwis can do it. Why not Kim?

If the Kiwis can put stuff into orbit, then the Norks can't be far behind. If you can get to orbit you can hit anywhere on the planet. The threat was implicit from the git go. It just takes time for the drones to figure it out.

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