* Posts by Daedalus

684 posts • joined 15 Oct 2009


Are you sure your disc drive has stopped rotating, or are you just ignoring the messages?

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Users NEVER read on screen messages

Yes, well, funny you should mention driving a car. I once found myself following a guy driving a bit slower than you would expect on the freeway, so I overtook him. We got off at the same exit, and as I was waiting to turn on to the road to my office, he came up behind me and failed to stop before impacting my car in a fairly firm way, but not enough to cause more than a small dent. He turned out to be a flabby desk droid who turned white at the thought of getting the insurance companies involved and offered to settle with me for cash. This, obviously, was not his first recent fender bender. I took the cash.

So here is someone who, whilst being able to drive, certainly had problems with comprehending the basic controls of his car. For some people, even the simplest thing may be beyond their ability to cope.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Users NEVER read on screen messages

I think that technology is exposing a layer of functional illiteracy among people. I'm seeing a lot of examples online of messages popping up that the user simply does not, or can not read. It's as if their comprehension extends to stuff they know about and expect, but stops short of anything new or unexpected.

Programmers bear some responsibility for this, using unexpected jargon etc., and few companies seem prepared to review all user-facing text for clarity. On the other hand there are a lot of situations where users simply don't see stuff, and not just because they've got a zillion icons on their desktop or too many browser tabs open. We're still using a UX model from the early 90's where the users were expected to have more than a few brain cells, and the ubiquity of software and web pages was just a dream. Unfortunately designers are still hung up on cool animations instead of simplifying what users see so they can't get themselves into trouble.

Oracle boss's Brexit Britain trip shutdown due to US government shutdown

Daedalus Silver badge

Face off! Face on!

Given that we're about to enter the era of real-time video impersonation, I'd say that video appearances by the Really Important People are going to be few and far between.

Daedalus Silver badge


I'm not sure what "trivial" means, especially compared to, say, the process in the UK. You need proof of citizenship, which is one of birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or existing passport. The former just has your name (or at least the name of the person you claim to be) whereas the latter two have an actual photo. I don't recall sending in any other ID: I suppose the in-person application might involve a second photo ID of some kind. For my UK passport in the days of my youth, it was just the birth certificate, a form, and a picture (OMG that beard.....).

Daedalus Silver badge

US Postal Service

To clarify, you can APPLY for a passport at any US Postal Service office (if you can find one, they're closing "unnecessary" offices and have been for decades). It still takes 4-6 weeks to turn the handle on the process, though I think there's a "pay extra to jump the queue" option that zillionaires would think nothing of using. Frankly, given the calibre of the desk droids at most offices, I wouldn't want to rely on them. I do renewals by mail and take care of the paperwork/photos myself.

I think that Herr Hurd is also mistaken in saying it's the USPS's issue. That service is independent of the Federal budget so junk mail is flowing as freely as ever. Maybe they have dedicated State Dept. employees at USPS offices, and they are the ones staying home. Or maybe it's just that the office in DC where all the applications normally go is closed. Or maybe there's an Executive Travel Service we don't hear about that employs minions to queue up in said office, and they have told Hurd that it's not on.

Zuck's 2019 tech talk tour should tackle the questions Facebook spent 2018 dodging

Daedalus Silver badge

Frankly, dears....

Someone who, clearly, hasn't given a damn about anybody but himself from day one, remarkably doesn't give a damn about all those people who want him to face their music.

Steamer closets, flying cars, robot boxers, smart-mock-cock ban hypocrisy – yes, it's the worst of CES this year

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: "mimics all of the sensations of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers"

A special trick performed by one Audrey Horne on Twin Peaks. One of David Lynch's better metaphors.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: "mimics all of the sensations of a human mouth, tongue, and fingers"

Yeah, and can it tie a knot in a cherry stem?

Microsoft wins today's buzzword bingo with empowering set of updates to Teams

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I have no objection to Microsoft installing their POS at the POS.

As long as they handle all the service calls.

I'm just not sure the computer works here – the energy is all wrong

Daedalus Silver badge

Can't we have a lightbulb icon for those rare occasions that we get things right?

Sorry, you're only allowed the "Why didn't we think of this before?" facepalm.

My 2019 resolution? Not to buy any of THIS rubbish

Daedalus Silver badge

Do you have records from the 70's? CBS label records were notorious for surface noise, warping etc. And I still have my copy of "Wish You Were Here" with the hole 1 mm off centre. Sounds OK-ish except for the end of the last track when you really hear the wow on those long notes.

ICO has pumped almost £2.5m and 36 staff into its political data probe – but only 2 are techies

Daedalus Silver badge

Hell desk

The two are just there to reset passwords, reboot servers, and stop people using the Deleted Items folder to store their e-mail.

Newsflash: Twitter still toxic place for women, particular those of color, Amnesty study finds

Daedalus Silver badge

Thin skins

It was Private Eye's editor who noted that, whereas politicians tended to "take their medicine like men", it was journalists who had all the resilience of a wet paper bag holding a half brick, and would sue to recover such dignity as they thought they had on Grub Street. Sounds like they're as tough as ever.

Pork pulled: Plug jerked out of beacon of bacon delight

Daedalus Silver badge

Cut out the middle man

Eating the dollar bill will probably give you the same taste.

Who's watching you from an unmarked van while you shop in London? Cops with facial recog tech

Daedalus Silver badge

Clash by night.

just days before the winter solstice

Actually you'll find that sunset got as early as it can on or around Dec 15. Sunrise will keep on getting later into early January. Just one of those Earth-in-its-orbit things. Dec 20-21 is still the shortest actual stretch of daylight, but our clocks don't do solar time.

Dine crime: Chippy sells deep fried Xmas dinner

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: battered?

When I were a lad I ate 'em fresh off t'stalk.

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

Daedalus Silver badge

The missing link

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

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: 1970s?

Dix-neuf cent quatre vingts alors!!!

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

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Baroness Trumpington, former Bletchley Park clerk, dies aged 96

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

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

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Finally we know...

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


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.

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Wombats shit bricks?

Try the guy who made bunnies poop jelly beans.

Daedalus Silver badge

Finally we know...

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

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

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

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

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Daedalus Silver badge

Palm greasing Sunday?

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

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

Daedalus Silver badge

SETI is old hat

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

Daedalus Silver badge

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).

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

Daedalus Silver badge

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)

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

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

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

Daedalus Silver badge

It's the Banksy model

Turn it on and it shreds itself.

Daedalus Silver badge

They made a mistake in the price

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

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

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

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

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Fifty Pound Note

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

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

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

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: Wrong name?

More like Office 420

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

Daedalus Silver badge

Re: "Amethyst Realm", really?

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

Daedalus Silver badge

Spooky Action

Cytoplasm + Ectoplasm = Excytogasm

Silent running: Computer sounds are so '90s

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Daedalus Silver badge

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....

The march of Amazon Business has resellers quaking in their booties

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Daedalus Silver badge

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.

Daedalus Silver badge

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...

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

Daedalus Silver badge

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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