* Posts by Kubla Cant

2007 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Microsoft hits new low: Threatens to axe classic Paint from Windows 10

Kubla Cant
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Re: The end

Perhaps Microsoft need to run an educational campagne. Maybe this is that campagne...

What's a "campagne"? Is it a fizzy wine? A stretch of countryside? A bedspread?

Perhaps Microsoft could enlighten us as part of an educational campaign.

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Feeling old? Well, we're older than that: Newly found Homo sapiens jaw dates back 350k years

Kubla Cant
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I would imagine any tools that primitive humans had, were invaluable and consequently always kept close.

I'm sure I've read that, on the contrary, early hominids seem to have made and discarded tools in surprising quantities. It could be that once you have mastered the technique it's easier to knock up a new tool than find where you left the one you used last. Perhaps stone tools aren't convenient to carry around when you don't have any pockets.

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Seminal game 'Colossal Cave Adventure' released onto GitLab

Kubla Cant
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Re: Left -- right?

IIRC, there were two mazes of twisty little passages.

One had subtly different descriptions for each location ("...twisty little passages, no two the same", "...passages, all different", etc) so you could map it using the descriptions. The other had the same description everywhere ("twisty little passages, all the same"). The way to map this maze was to drop things, so you could identify passages by their contents.

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Faking incontinence and other ways to scare off tech support scammers

Kubla Cant
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Re: Quick solution

While playing elaborate pranks on the scammers may be fun, you are wasting your own time as well as theirs -- and your time is probably much more valuable, to you at least.

The answer to this is some kind of phone bot. I came across a site run by a man who'd written a bot to handle cold-callers. Mostly it just says "Uh-huh", "OK", and "Yeah", but occasionally it comes out with something like "You'll have to repeat that... I've been taking sleeping pills and I've just woken up." or it shouts a request for coffee to somebody else in the house. There's an amusing recording of an insurance salesman interacting with it.

Elsewhere, there's a great recording of a guy who freaks out a telephone canvasser by pretending to be a cop investigating the murder of the person being called.

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Bye bye MP3: You sucked the life out of music. But vinyl is just as warped

Kubla Cant
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Re: Quality of vinyl

Vinyl, pah! For a truly warm, old-fashioned sound you need wax cylinders.

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Kubla Cant
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Jewel cases

if as much engineering design effort had been invested in the plastic jewel* cases as the optical technology on the disc

Never mind the jewel cases. The real problem is the Cellophane wrappers, which seem to have been designed so that you need a scalpel to open them. Occasionally, rarely, they have a tear-off strip, which normally breaks off when you pull it.

There's nothing like buying a new CD and deciding to play it in the car. Numerous fatalities must have been caused by people bombing down the motorway while scrabbling at the packaging with fingernails and teeth.

* Why are they called jewel cases? They're totally unsuitable for keeping jewellery in, and I can't imagine that even the original designer thought a cheap plastic box looked jewel-like.

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Kubla Cant
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... they didn't try a second cd. Perhaps they only had one to demo with.

Perhaps the disk was fine, but the CD player was stuck up with jam, and was therefore, er, toast.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Listening to Vinyl is a bit like eating at a posh restaurant

To be precise, listening to vinyl is like eating in one of those posh restaurants where they offer a sort of Edwardian menu consisting entirely of roasts, steak pudding, jam roll and custard and Stilton.

I have a BMW, but the music system won't play FLAC. It only does MP3, CDA and WMF.

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Kill Google AMP before it KILLS the web

Kubla Cant
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Re: "But was this a story about a driving licence or visa application type copy cat site?

Aibu in thinking that google should do more to protect young consumers from fraudulent sites?

I love the fact that she* uses the expression "Am I being unreasonable" so much that she has an acronym for it.

* Sorry if this seems sexist. I assume it's she because the site is called Mumsnet.

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HP Inc wireless mouse can be spoofed

Kubla Cant
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Re: Everything has to be wireless

Too true. A friend bought a wireless printer. Well, I say "printer", but it didn't do much printing. Most of the time it sulked in the corner and the operating system reported it as off-line, or in use elsewhere.

In the end we just connected it with a USB cable and it now works faultlessly.

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PC repair chap lets tech support scammer log on to his PC. His Linux PC

Kubla Cant
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Re: VOIP

By the way, you win against the scammers if they call you a mother [bleep] before they hang up

I've won. I went through the rigmarole with the scammer who phoned me, but I acted really stupid, which made it so difficult and complicated that he passed me to his "supervisor". After another 15 minutes of acting stupid, I agreed to give him a credit card number. When I read out the number from a Tesco loyalty card he got really angry and said "Why are you wasting my time?"

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America 'will ban carry-on laptops on flights from UK, Europe to US'

Kubla Cant
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Re: So how does this work then?

Several hours of accordion or bagpipes, and the passengers will insist that the pilot crashes the plane anyway.

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Kubla Cant
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They can demand to "scan" that SD card at the border crossing

True, but they have to find it first. Most people's phones have a storage-extension card, and a micro-SD isn't a hard thing to hide in your clothing or luggage.

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Drugs, vodka, Volvo: The Scandinavian answer to Britain's future new border

Kubla Cant
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Does this work, anyway?

I didn't see much evidence in the article that the Scans can prove their system is actually working.

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London app dev wants to 'reinvent the bus'

Kubla Cant
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Re: if that's the answer, then someone asked the wrong question

"Passengers are reminded that ...

You haven't been listening carefully. In rail-speak, the people who travel on trains are now "customers". They travel between "station-stops".

And they're congenitally incapable of remembering to take all their baggage and possessions with them when they leave a train.

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'I feel violated': Engineer who pointed out traffic signals flaw fined for 'unlicensed engineering'

Kubla Cant
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Realtors?

Attorneys, Doctors, Realtors, Electricians, and Engineers are all protected professions in many states

I can see the need for regulation of Attorneys, Doctors, Electricians, and Engineers. But Realtors? Are they not just what we call estate agents? The qualifications for that profession being a slimy disposition and an untrustworthy moral compass.

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Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Not regulated?

The E in MCSE stands for "Experanced". The other letters stand for "Must", "Call", and "Someone"

This sounds like it might be funny if I knew what "Experanced" means.

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Welsh Linux Mint terror nerd jailed for 8 years

Kubla Cant
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Clickbait headline

In what way does the possession of a copy of Linux Mint on a USB device qualify somebody as a "Linux Mint terrorist"? I have copies of Mint on several devices, including laptop and desktop computers. Does that make me a Linux Mint battlegroup?

I dare say he also had a smartphone - could he also be an Android terrorist?

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TVs are now tablet computers without a touchscreen

Kubla Cant
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Re: Oh you optimist

I'd be very happy for manufacturers to produce 'dumb' TVs

It's one of the curious paradoxes of a market economy that smart TVs are probably cheaper than comparable dumb monitors, because more people want to buy them. Fortunately, there's nothing to stop you treating your smart TV as dumb and connecting a PC, PVR or STB to it.

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IT error at Great Western Railway charging £10k for 63-mile journey ticket

Kubla Cant
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Re: IT Error?

It's probably an instance of the classic code smell known as "magic values".

First class tickets aren't available, so the price should be null. You can't use null because it's not supported or it breaks something elsewhere. How about zero? No, we don't want to risk people travelling for free. A negative number? No, we might have to pay them to travel. OK, we'll use a big number.

Long.MAX_VALUE might have been a better choice. If it ever got printed it would be pretty noticeable.

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Stanford Uni's intro to CompSci course adopts JavaScript, bins Java

Kubla Cant
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Easier to pick up? Not really.

JavaScript is lighter weight and easier to pick up than Java, so it's a better fit for an introductory course, particularly when a lot of the students won't go any farther than building websites anyway

JS is only "easier to pick up" and use for "building websites" in a very limited sense. It's all a matter of what you're picking up.

Once upon a time, when web pages were mostly HTML, JS was mainly used for enhancements and tweaks, and scripts didn't contain much beyond procedural code and simple inheritance. The language specification scarcely changed for ten years. It sounds like the course is teaching this kind of antique JS.

These days, JS is a hotbed of crazes, functional programming enthusiasms and novel frameworks. There are at least three language versions in common use. Knowledge gained on version N of a framework will be useless when version N+1 is released. Web sites now consist of large single-page applications, and their syntax and code organisation will be utterly baffling to someone who's been taught "window.alert('Hello world')" scripting.

Regardless of opinions about the relative merits or potential longevity of the two languages, Java has more overall consistency between APIs and stability between versions. Students who have completed an introductory course in Java stand a better chance of finding their way around real-world applications than they do in JS.

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Hard-pressed Juicero boss defends $400 IoT juicer after squeezing $120m from investors

Kubla Cant
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Re: Easy juice? Sounds good to me.

are you really trying to argue that there isn't evidence of useful nutrients being contained in vegetables?

The weasel-word here is "nutrients". In spite of what self-styled nutritionists tell you, here's nothing intrinsically good about nutrients.

Most food consists of a mixture of nutrients, things absorbed by the body, and non-nutrients such as fibre, that pass right through. A bag of white sugar contains nothing but useful nutrients. It also delivers plenty of energy - another weasel-word. But it's not really a wise food choice.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Juicing is bad

If you eat the fruit, do those sugars not get digested in the same way?

The same amount of sugars, but not digested in the same way. The problem is with the time it takes for your blood sugar to rise. Whole fruit has a lower glycaemic index than fruit juice. Many fruit juices deliver the same glycaemic load as a glass of Coke.

Also, a recent study reported that prepared, bagged salads could carry a dangerous risk of salmonella because the juices on the cut ends of the leaves are an ideal growth medium for bacteria. I would guess that the juices in a bag of cut fruit are salmonella heaven.

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(You can't) buy one now! The flying car makes its perennial return

Kubla Cant
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Trollface

Re: Calories (or whatever measure of energy expenditure you prefer)

one will ruin one's new suite when going to the club after the gym

Myself, I prefer a club that supplies its own furniture.

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Farewell Unity, you challenged desktop Linux. Oh well, here's Ubuntu 17.04

Kubla Cant
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Re: My thoughts on this ...

I recently worked a contract where all the developer machines ran Ubuntu. I really, really tried to get on with Unity, but after a couple of months I called it a day and installed the latest Cinnamon. You had to select the desktop at startup time, but apart from that it ran pretty well. There were occasional glitches, but that may well have been a result of running the bleeding-edge Cinnamon on a slightly old version of Ubuntu.

For home use I occasionally run through the latest and greatest distros and desktops, but I usually come back to Mint/Cinnamon.

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30,000 London gun owners hit by Met Police 'data breach'

Kubla Cant
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Allegedly, the guns on HMS Belfast would score a direct hit on the M1 "London Gateway" motorway services if fired.

I remember reading that when I worked in an office opposite HMS Belfast, but it can't be true. I mean, if they could shell a Welcome Break, why wouldn't they?

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PACK YOUR BAGS! Boffins spot Earth-size planet most likeliest yet to harbor alien life

Kubla Cant
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Re: Pack your bags?

a publicly used telephone

Telephone sanitisers mostly cleaned phones in offices. I think they're unfairly vilified. The real culprits were the people who employed them - a bunch of snake-oil merchants selling a solution to a non-existent health risk.

I dare say somebody used to clean public phone boxes, but you'd never have guessed.

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'Nobody's got to use the internet,' argues idiot congressman in row over ISP privacy rules

Kubla Cant
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Mushroom

Re: Senior Moment

That seems to be the opinion of many people over the age of 70. These are people who didn't make their money using a keyboard.

As a person over 70 currently making a decent living as a developer of internet applications, I object. You are confusing over-70s with idiots, who can be any age.

This man's an ill-informed fool because he's a politician. Ignorance and bluster are the main qualifications for his job.

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HMRC beer duty bungle leaves breweries struggling to pay online

Kubla Cant
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Re: Clearly this tax change has taken all the devs by surprise

They had plenty of notice. But as a result of the new IR35 regime, the devs no longer work at HMRC.

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Half-baked security: Hackers can hijack your smart Aga oven 'with a text message'

Kubla Cant
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Re: AGA do

But I was going to say "AGA Khan't"

Hey! That's my pun!

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Troll it your way: Burger King ad tries to hijack Google Home gadgets

Kubla Cant
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Re: I think the point is

Artery-attacking mega-chain Burger King

I've spent the past 45 years avoiding saturated fat, so I was more than a little annoyed to learn that current medical opinion is that there is no link between dietary cholesterol and arterial disease.

But what a strange world admen inhabit, where the best way to encourage people to buy your product is to cause them annoyance and inconvenience.

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Apple wets its pants over Swatch ad tagline

Kubla Cant
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Headmaster

Re: Tick Different?

In related news, 'MacDonald's" have trademarked every word in the English language, with Mac prefixed.

Why would McDonald's want to do that?

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Eric S. Raymond says you probably fit one of eight tech archetypes

Kubla Cant
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Architect

Unfortunately, the term "architect" has taken over the unlovely role previously occupied by "analyst". Time was, you could just be a programmer. Then that job title became a bit infra dig, and anyone whose job didn't involve floor-sweeping became an "analyst programmer".

Last year I worked in an office where everyone was either an architect or a business analyst (except me - as a contractor I was allowed to be just a developer). I think it's a way of providing a chimerical career path for the permies.

Nothing against real architects.

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Mark Shuttleworth says some free software folk are 'deeply anti-social' and 'love to hate'

Kubla Cant
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@oldtaku Unity is still a worthless piece of crippled crap that nobody ever wanted but Canonical

QED.

I've used Unity professionally on a number of projects. It's not my favourite desktop environment, but it has good points as well as bad. So do all the alternatives, including Windows and OSX.

The belief that expressing polar likes and dislikes in intemperate terms is a way to prove their validity is one that most people grow out of by adolescence.

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Customer satisfaction is our highest priority… OK, maybe second-highest… or third...

Kubla Cant
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BS 5216C:2005 Proof correction marks (Pack of 20)

In the nine months between school and university, I worked as a technical editor*. In those days we had to make our own proof correction marks with a pencil. I don't think the option to buy packs of them was available. For much of the stuff I corrected, 20 marks would have been hopelessly inadequate.

How does a pack of correction marks work? Do you get five carets, five of the loopy deletion mark**, a couple of feet of underlining for bold and italic, and assorted subscript, superscript, caps, lc marks? What do you do if you need something exotic like wrong font?

* For a company that built nuclear power stations. In the intervening years I've been looking out for a "nuclear accident caused by faulty operating instructions" headline.

** Does it have a name?

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We know what you're thinking: Where the hell is all the antimatter?

Kubla Cant
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Re: No charge

the scientists should avoid rubbing balloons against their jumpers. And wearing polyester-mix trousers

The carpet and balloon requirements can be met, but I'm afraid polyester-mix trousers are non-negotiable for scientists. There may even be the odd nylon shirt in there.

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Put down your coffee and admire the sheer amount of data Windows 10 Creators Update will slurp from your PC

Kubla Cant
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Windows

Re: I thought

@Patrician Please show me how to play Mass Effect:Andromeda on anything other than Windows

This thread started with a post saying "I could probably move about 60% of my staff to running on Raspberry PI's running Nix with OpenOffice". I don't know what business the OP is in, but I'd be surprised if it involves an office full of people playing Mass Effect:Andromeda.

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Startup remotely 'bricks' grumpy bloke's IoT car garage door – then hits reverse gear

Kubla Cant
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Re: re Why do you need the intermediate server, which is just another thing to go wrong?

Last week we had to keep bumping the thermostat manually up a degree. A few weeks before that the heating never came on because the house was at 19 degrees for several days.

Why did you have to alter the thermostat when it was cold? Isn't the point of a thermostat to maintain a constant temperature by switching the heating (or individual radiators) off and on? The fact that your heating didn't come on when the weather was warm suggests that the thermostat is working as expected.

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Lochs, rifle stocks and two EPIC sea gates: Thomas Telford's Highland waterway

Kubla Cant
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Lochs, locks

Perhaps the massive budget over-run was partly a result of confusion. "No, no, no! I told you to build a lock, not a loch."

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Hundreds of millions 'wasted' on UK court digitisation scheme

Kubla Cant
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Megaphone

a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to modernise the criminal justice system

This point of view seems to embody the characteristic failure mode of these monster public-sector projects. Instead of building on what's already in place, they have a megalomaniac urge to throw everything away and start again.

My experience (admittedly on a relatively microscopic scale) is that this attitude is common among people who lack the patience, or the ability, to examine the existing solutions properly.

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Y'know CSS was to kill off HTML table layout? Well, second time's a charm: Meet CSS Grid

Kubla Cant
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What's new?

How is this different from the various display: table CSS attributes that have been part of the standard for years? Even Internet Exploder supported them from version 9.

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Forget robot overlords, humankind will get finished off by IoT

Kubla Cant
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Re: Pavements

The thing in the picture looks like it would have the classic Dalek Problem with kerbs and steps. If delivery robots are programmed to avoid pedestrians it should be easy to herd them into the gutter.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: Robot wars?

I've only ever caught the last few minutes of Robot Wars. It looked to me like the warring machines were being guided by fat blokes with remote controls. Was I mistaken, or are there in fact no actual robots involved?

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How about a nice game of ... Tetris? Oxford eggheads slow PTSD onset with classic game

Kubla Cant
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How did they settle on Tetris?

Did they try other computer games?

Even better, did they try non-computer games? Like getting the people waiting in A&E to play snakes and ladders, or squash, or hide-and-seek. A game of British Bulldog would take your mind off things.

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New plastic banknote plans now upsetting environmental campaigners

Kubla Cant
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Seeing a list of options starting "Palm Oil, Tallow..." reminds me of a system I once worked on. It was a billing system for storage of bulk liquids in the company's tank farm. Running "select * from products" was guaranteed to make you feel queasy. The results included palm oil and tallow, and much, much worse things.

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Creators Update gives Windows 10 a bit of an Edge, but some old annoyances remain

Kubla Cant
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Re: WS_EX_TOPMOST

I hear the next version of UWP brings back CGA graphics compatibility.

Ah, but will it have the authentic on-screen snow when refreshing.

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Kubla Cant
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Re: 'Hang on! Ads in Explorer?'

Win-10 bypasses Hosts file requires blocking at Router level!

Presumably you can use an ad-blocking proxy server such as Privoxy. You might need to run it on a separate box, but any old retired computer running a basic Linux would probably suffice.

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'Trash-80' escapes the dustbin of history with new TRS-80 emulator

Kubla Cant
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LET

The latest manifestation of EctoplasmECMA Script has introduced a "let" keyword as a fix for the tragically ill-conceived "var". To anyone with experience of early BASIC this is an unfortunate choice, as it indicates variable definition, not assignment. Using "let" more than once on the same variable causes an error. You'd think ECMA could have found a keyword with less history.

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Miss Misery on hacking Mr Robot and the Missing Sense of Fun

Kubla Cant
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Re: "the drug-induced stupor makes it difficult"

strange virtual wolds in your brain

I think it's known as Lincolnshire.

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UK.gov departments accused of blanket approach to IR35

Kubla Cant
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Re: self-employment check

Their house their rules?

Yes, but it seems to be more a case of "We're big, you're small, so we can do whatever we like". When I've been approached about public-sector contracts recently, I've been told "You will have to work through an umbrella company rather than your own limited company". If true, this clearly implies that the public sector is discriminating against small business.

I bet Crapita doesn't have PAYE/NIC deducted at source.

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