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* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

6671 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

LESTER gets ready to trundle: The Register's beer-bot has a name

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Any volunteers?

And wear a Sou'Wester?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

Re: Any volunteers?

Volunteer must be called Sylvester or Chester...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Pint

Re: In loving memory

RIP Lester.

I suggest that in the light of Lester's inspiration, either they have to do another project afterwards, or LESTER needs to be given the ability to deliver snacks with the drinks. Perhaps a future enhanced capability to deliver post-pub nosh would be desireable?

After all, the S in LESTER does stand for sustenance.

Which I should know - as I'm also delighted to be a winner! Woohoo! I hope my prize will be my very own office beer delivery system? Obviousy that would include El Reg installing a fully working pub in the basement...

However, my splendidly tortured backronym it may be - but the idea to use LESTER was Roger Varley's. I just came up with the barcronym to meet his spec.

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

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Teletypes and Moogs

I thought the Moog was from Willow the Wisp...

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Re: Yo Dabbsy

I've always just said station. Unless I was trying to find the mass of a sperm whale, in which case I'd go to the whaleweigh station.

Mark Kermode on air once tried to say airport, temporarily blanked and came out with aeroplane station.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: Most people are not just thick.

I prefer french undressing...

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Re: Education is no longer designed to teach.

Next, someone will have to provide an army of those face-slappers from the Vogon planet that will slap the thinking right out of them

I'm shocked! I'm not bothered by the usual declining standards / conspiracy theory bit of the post. But by someone who references that genius Douglas Adams by way of that bloody awful film.

Hitch Hikers Guide started on the wireless damnit!

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No. Both Widow attendace and large donations are KPIs.

It's very important to engage all of our stakeholders in an inclusive dialogue, so that we can increase diverse learnings from all communitites and thus leverage our community value proposition into a full-spectrum service delivery.

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Re: DAIM Bar and crisps!

My sixth form pub, was a really grotty pub that nobody else would drink in, with a horrible grumpy landlord. Right between the school gate and the bus stop.

It's since become a Michelin star restaurant run by a guy who's now become a TV chef.

I tried to book dinner there a couple of years ago, and there was a 14 month waiting list for a weekend dinner. So it's literally harder to get into than when I was 16!

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ZTE to USA: Sure, ban us, but you cannot afford such victories

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Re: A bit too much threatening nationalism there...

MajDom,

You're forgetting the most important fact. If all 1.3 billion people in China jump up and down at the same time, it will cause a tidal wave that will destroy California.

ZTE are in the perfect position to enact this plot.

Step 1: Give free ZTE phone to all Chinese people.

Step 2: Phones ring in unison, at set time.

Step 3: When all phones answered, recorded voice shouts "Booo!"

Step 4: Profit!

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Tech bribes: What's the WORST one you've ever been offered?

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A cuppa soup

From a stationery vendor. At the time I was working as a beancounter for an office supplies chain.

It was stuck inside a card with some sort of pun about relaxing with a warm cup of soup. I made it, and it was worse than the soup from the vending machine. Something I didn't think was scientifically possible.

However the same paper vendor also gave out alarmingly noisy squawking cuddly parrots. I think my niece ended up with mine. We did a promotion for them, where if you bought enough white paper, you got a free cuddly noisy penguin. A few thousand of these were delivered in sacks to reception. And the delivery driver tripped and fell onto them. Apparently the noise of a thousand squawking penguins going off simultaneously is indescribable...

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I ain't Spartacus
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As Clive James once said, in a TV interview with the Chippendales, "Is that all you in those posing pouches?"

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I ain't Spartacus
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Coat

Re: Sophocks

I can't believe El Reg. I'm disgusted!

How could they talk about a sock lottery and fail to make the obvious comment about the sock draw...

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I ain't Spartacus
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Devil

Re: First of all, I don't accept bribes. Ever. Personal policy.

I'm not above rubies and emeralds.

That's not what Ruby and Emerald say about you...

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BOFH: We know where the bodies are buried

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Re: yes, knowing where the bodies are

No idea. All ex-employees' records are deleted on the day of their exit, in order to comply with the GDPR. Including the ones who disappear in mysterious circumstances

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SpaceX finally Falcon flings NASA's TESS into orbit

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Devil

Re: Always get nurvous

That suggests a new word

NERVAous - definition: anxiety and fear of being present at the launch of a nuclear rocket.

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I ain't Spartacus
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Re: What about Mr Steven

They didn't attempt it on this launch. Don't know why. Though I can imagine it being that the fairing was designed ages ago - it being a NASA mission that will have been years in the planning.

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OK, this time it's for real: The last available IPv4 address block has gone

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Re: Various inane ramblings.

Users demand V6......come on, 95% of users at least have no idea what IP stands for, what DNS is, MAC address, anything

Rubbish! V6 is a fruit juice. IP is what happens after I've drunk too much of it. And a MAC address is where the Deliveroo drive brings my burger to.

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I ain't Spartacus
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No. Because the article is taking the piss out of IPv6, and its poor adoption, because almost nobody wants it. Including El Reg - who don't bother with it.

So their article is fine.

IPv6 has failed. There's been pressure to fully adopt it for years - even decades now. But people just keep on with IPv4, because kludging that a bit more is easier than switching over.

What this should tell everybody is that we should abandon IPv6 and start from scratch with something that people will actually be willing to use. Otherwise I foresee decades more of the current mess.

So let's say IPv6 is Vista. We need an IPv7. Which almost everyone will like The trick then is to beat to death with sticks anyone who suggests IPv8...

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Re: Compatibility

What you actually mean is that while they were at it, they improved/changed some other things that THEY didn't like about IPv4. Then stuck their fingers in their ears and ignored all the complaints for nearly THIRTY YEARS!!! Thus dooming their shiny new system to being a bizarre cult that people only join if there's no other possible choice.

I predict we'll get the paperless office before total IPv6 switchover. Or even the three seashells...

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Size does matter, chaps: Oversized todgers an evolutionary handicap

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Devil

Re: Cock size

Could it be that wearing glow-in-the-dark condoms and staging mock lightsabre fights somehow confers an evolutionary advantage?

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I ain't Spartacus
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Happy

I don't find the trouser fitting an issue at all. I've simply had my left leg amputated. As long as I keep taking the Viagra, I can put a boot on the end and walk on it.

If I run out, I end up walking in circles though...

It's Buster Gonad I feel sorry for.

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Don’t fight automation software for control, just turn it off. FAST

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Re: Not all autopilots the same

colinb,

There's a problem with that Airbus fly-by-wire though. I'm sure Sullenberger was up with all the failure modes of his aircraft - because he'd written books on safety and emergency responses.

But one of the probably causes of the Air France 447 crash was that the pilot who stalled the aircraft had been trained that he couldn't stall it. Which is true in normal mode. But when the computer system goes into certain modes, such as when it can't trust its sensor inputs, then it stops protecting the pilots from stalling.

So it's a different control philosophy, which could have different outcomes depending on circumstances and pilot training and familiarity with their systems. Most simulator training is for "normal" type emergencies, like landing with faulty undercarriage or single engine failures / fires. Because simulator time is expensive, and airlines want their pilots flying not practising. They don't tend to train for total engine failure or computer/sensor failure regularly. Which will hopefully change.

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Re: Even in the extremely unlikely event that fully autonomous vehicles ever become viable

Doctor Syntax,

That's easy. They'll charge more for peak travel. The school run, and run to the office. Then you'll be able to hire them cheaper during the day - which may well mean that current 2 car families can drop down to a single car and a monthly hire fee or something. Also maintenance can be done during working hours - leaving more of your fleet available for peak travel.

Some people will happily pay more for their own car.

As for the dirty issue, why not a robot vacuum cleaner for a robot car?

The car companies are looking at this as a way to keep making money if automous cars do come off, and (another big if) if that then leads to more people car-sharing. Because if both happen, they'll sell many fewer cars, and lose some economies of scale.

But it's both a big social and a big technological change. And those often take longer.

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Re: Designs of aircraft control systems have been, at times, cringe-worthy

That could be the "final" warning message issued by the plane in wife-voice[TM]. You see I told you so! But you didn't listen. Oh no! Well now look what's happened!

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Re: Even in the extremely unlikely event that fully autonomous vehicles ever become viable

Ledswinger,

I suspect you're right. Which makes autonomous cars even further away. They'll start off very expensive, and possibly hard to insure. But if you own a fleet of thousands, then you can self-insure.

But this will give an inferior service to ownership, at least in some ways, and so will have to be cheaper. Which means utilisation will have to be high, in order to cover costs. Or it'll have to be a loss leader to attract customers, and hope to make profits later, once volume brings the price down.

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Re: We had crashes because the autopilot disengaged without the pilots noticing...

Alan Johnson,

I disagree. Obviously the biggest cause of the crash was that pilot losing situational awareness and stalling the plane.

Training and discipline also broke down - given that both pilots had hands on the controls. Not helped by that model having side-sticks, so it's much harder to notice what the other pilot is doing.

But the controls of the plane are also badly designed. Because averaging the inputs is completely fucking pointless. The plane can't know which of those two inputs is correct, so what it should be doing is complaining about it, locking the controls and doing neither - or just doing one - and disabling the other stick. Or you have connected yokes, so it's obvious. Silently averaging them means that nobody now knows what's happening - and if one pilot is correct you've turned a 50/50 chance of him getting control and saving the day into a 100% chance of failure.

Obviously it's also a problem that we've trained pilots for fly-by-wire that won't let them cause stalls - and not trained them enough on the failure modes of fly-by-wire where that's no longer the case.

So it also seems to me that sidesticks are possibly a bad idea - and you want a physical yoke - because that way you can physically see and feel what the aircraft controls are doing - and that means the non-flying pilot has a better chance to work the problem. Interfaces need to be as simple as possible, as yet anther warning alarm will get ignored under the consistently running stall alarm, which I seem to recall alternated with an overspeed alarm.

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Re: Even in the extremely unlikely event that fully autonomous vehicles ever become viable

SonofRojBlake,

We shall see. First, the self-driving cars have to be reliable enough to get approved. Given the story is that Uber's could only manage an average of 13 miles autonomous driving, before requiring human intervention, that's got a while to go.

OK, Google seem to do much better. But then their car is using lots of very expensive lidar and radar sensors. So the next hurdle to achieve is affordability. They can get away with being more expensive, and leased, seeing as they can wander off and work for other people while we're not using them. Some sort of cross between taxi and car share seems viable. But that's probably still a way off.

I'm not sure I buy the self-driving car hype quite yet. Like a lot of current news about AI and Big Data - there's a lot of truth, a bit of theory and quite a lot of wishful thinking and marketing bullshit. Computers won't replace all the lawyers, accountants and office workers in ten years time and self-driving cars won't have taken over by then either.

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Re: I know that military aircraft...

SkippyBing,

You just can't expect the same levels of training from private pilots as military and commercial ones get. It's not practical. Commercial pilots do regular simulator drills on common emergencies - so that when those warning alarms start going off they're prepared for them and know what to do. Those kind of realistic simulators cost an absolute fortune, and time on them is limited and expensive. And you need to refresh that kind of practice regularly.

Even if a pilot knows what to do in theory, it's another thing entirely to actually do it right when the brown stuff hits the rotating air-movement device. That's why professional pilots have to drill.

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Re: Designs of aircraft control systems have been, at times, cringe-worthy

I heard a really clever company on a Radio 4 documentary several years ago. They'd decided that private pilots struggle far more with warnings than commercial ones (with the advantage of regular simulator practise for emergencies). And colleagues to help manage the crisis - and split the work.

Their idea was that once you've got more than one electronic warning device going off, you're just not going to be able to take the information in fast enough. So they updated private plane's flight controls with non-electronic warning voices. In this case it was the pilot's wife. On the theory (backed up by testing) that his brain was wired to react to info coming from a real person that he knew.

Of course, if you're used to arguing over the satnav in the car - or just saying, "whatever you say darling" - then in this case you're probably going to die. So choose your recorded voice carefully.

Also, a bit odd/disturbing for the wife. Who's going to have to record messages like, "Warning terrain!" and "Pull up!" and "Stall!".

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Re: Designs of aircraft control systems have been, at times, cringe-worthy

To be fair, there's not enough common sense in the world to go round. There are a lot of basic decisions you have to make when designing that control interface. And they've got a lot of them right. But then you come to designing the more unusual cases. And there's often a dilemma, in that you may have more than one problem to try and correct for.

Another factor is that in military design - you may choose to train the pilots to not do some particularly dangerous thing, because that's cheaper than fixing the problem on the aircraft. Or fixing that aerodynamic problem may reduce the performance of the aircraft in other ways, and so not be desirable.

Similarly with commercial pilots being so highly trained, they're expected to handle a lot more than private ones.

I'm often amazed when watching those reconstructions of air crashes - just how much information the system is trying to get into the pilot at the same time. And I just don't believe that even the best trained pilot can take it all in - while still having time to think what the warnings mean - and of course time to fly the bloody plane.

For example there was that Qantas Airbus, where the computer went bonkers and was pushing out master alarms and computer warnings so fast that the messages were just disappearing off the screen faster than the copilot could read them - or press the master alarm cancel button. The crew didn't panic in that case and did their diagnostics well, but I could well imagine that just becoming overwhelming and causing an otherwise airworthy plane to crash. As the computers confused the pilots on Air France 447 - and by the time the captain had got to the cockpit and worked out what was really happening, it was too late.

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Re: I know that military aircraft...

Surely the autopilot needs to clearly say what it's doing. Something like "autopilot disengaging, unexpected control inputs, pilot has manual control." Or whatever.

Or if it's deemed safer to correct for unexpected use of controls, on the grounds that most times this is accidental - then equally it needs to pipe up and say "error - unexpected control inputs."

But to silently counter what the pilot is doing seems like a really stupid way to design a system. What if the pilot has just noticed another aircraft, or a mountain. They're not trained, and so may panic and just reach for the controls without disabling the autopilot. Then you've designed failure into the system.

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Re: We had crashes because the autopilot disengaged without the pilots noticing...

That confirms what I was about to ask then. Which was that I thought pushing the yoke would disable the autopilot and give the pilot control. After all, there might be times when you see another plane late, and want to be moving the stick quickly, without having to reach for the off switch first. I didn't realise small planes operated differently.

This is a bit like the Air France flight 447 crash. Where the aircraft was "averaging" the inputs of the two pilots - whose cockpit discipline had broken down and were both trying to fly the plane at once. This is a situation that can't be allowed - and the automation shouldn't allow. Only one person (computer) can be flying at once - and even if they're doing it wrong, it's still unlikely to help if there are two simultaneous sets of inputs. Then nobody knows what's happening. And because of that, it becomes much harder (to impossible) to correct that intial error.

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NASA's TESS mission in distress, Mars Express restart is a success

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Facepalm

Meanwhile the engineers check the details, and decide whether or not you will go to space today.

Erm. My mouse pointer/cursor happened to hover over the word details when I read this, causing my brain to read it as toenails.

Now I have this mental image of the checks on the Falcon 9 landing feet, requiring a pedicurist in a white coat.

I think I need another lunchtime gin...

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If you guessed China’s heavy lifter failed due to a liquid hydrogen turbo engine fault, well done!

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phuzz,

There were persistent rumours of earlier losses. Although, since stuff opened up in the 90s I'm pretty sure we'd have found out if they were actually true.

Radio 4 did a great documentary on a bunch of Italian radio hams in the 50s and 60s. They'd got an old WWII bunker and a bunch of radio kit and were having lots of fun listening into (and recording) US and Russian space comms.

But then they've got "other" recordings. For some reason they started faking stuff. There's a recording of a woman cosmonaut struggling to breathe (presumably g forces) and then dying - and another of a Russian crew whose retro burn has gone wrong and sent them on a one-way trip away from the Earth - as they chat to mission control before going out of radio range - and off to certain death.

Robert Heinlein mentions a manned launch (in the 60s I think) that was announced when he was in Moscow, on holiday. Then no further announcements were made about it, and there were rumours that it had blown up. But then he was very anti-Soviet and maybe wanted to believe that, and inconsistency and bizarre attacks of secrecy in Soviet media announcements wasn't exactly uncommon...

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US, UK cyber cops warn Russians are rooting around in your routers

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Happy

Re: What's on at the cinema?

Is that what the "Russian state-sponsored cyber actors" will be starring in then?

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SpaceX's Falcon 9 poised to fling 350kg planet-sniffing satellite into Earth orbit

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Black Helicopters

Edit: and the first privately-orbited & recovered Dragon hangs just outside mission control and you can see it on every SpaceX webcast.

So where's the cheese?

The space cheese that Musk orbited and brought back. You know, the one with the alien mind-control spores in it. The one that's caused Musk to build a re-usable rocket. And why? No! Not to save money launching satellites! But so the aliens can hitch a ride and sneak down to Earth on them. They're coming! They're comning! They're co... .... ...

...

...

Oh, sorry, what was I saying? Mmm, that was a nice cheese sandwich I just had for lunch. Yummy! Elon Musk is my hero. A great humanitarian. We should all buy his lovely cars - so he's got more money to build rockets and go to Mars.

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Happy

Ooh shiny! A money shed. I want one of those! Sadly in my case, its current iteration would be something the size of a mouse kennel. So I guess I need to rob a few banks or found an internet business or two, before building one.

Apple's money shed is called Ireland...

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Sysadmin’s worst client was … his mother! Until his sister called for help

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My Mum occasionally springs something like, "how do I use a braille embosser?" She'd got it for a blind kid she was supporting - for the charity she helps since retiring. First, find software. Specialist stuff like that doesn't tend to be user-friendly either, the companies that make it don't have the money.

If you're nostalgic for the racket of old daisywheel printers, you're in luck.

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Re: How to solve a problem

That really pisses me off. People who change the defaults of non-techy's (well anyone's) pooters. Suddenly Chrome has appeared on the machine and become default browser - and all music is automatically playing through whatever their prefered program is, rather than iTunes. Where I put it, because the person who owns the damned computer uses iTunes, so it was logical.

The office is now nice though. Everyone is now on a PC set up from new by me. Which means they're all set up more-or-less identically. We all use the same stuff. So any time there's a problem, I can just sit down, and know where everything is. I've offered changes to my set-up to everyone, but they're all happy and don't know how to change stuff themselves. We outsource everything but basic IT, as it's not my job - but in small companies you do a bit of everything.

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Re: Tech is not elderly-friendly

My reading glasses are 5x magnification. And focus at about 8 inches from my head. I can read either the screen or the keyboard, but not both. Which is fine - I can touch type.

Until I come to use a fucking laptop, with the fucking trackpad that's 2mm from the fucking spacebar and has all the fucking keys in the wrong fucking positions so the fucking cursor runs away every time you fucking hit space and randomly types the end of words in the wrong box.

And breathe...

Can you tell I was fixing someone's laptop today? Me I like desktops. or well designed laptops with well placed trackpads. Or, in an ideal world, my old HP laptop that had a big blue button that turned the trackpad off, and then turned red so you knew you'd done it. Then plug a mouse in.

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Squiffy eyesight it may be for misreading RESET as rest. However, I bet that's because it was etched/embossed onto a beige (now black) PC case with no attempt to bother with contrasting colours. Or any reasonable font size.

Got asked by HP the other day for the serial number of our duff printer. God Bless smartphones! Could just shove that down the back and take a photo, then enlarge it - and get something readable. It used to be a torch, a magnifying glass and lots of swearing sorting the cables out to pull the unit far enough out that you could get even some access.

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Happy

Re: Worse than a mum

Or a 5th floor window and handily in-range skip...

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Re: RESULT!

This is another, unsung, reason why smartphones are great. If the PC dies mid crucial email, I can just grab the phone (or tablet) and finish it on that. It's not as easy to work, but it's fast enough to get the job done.

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Re: Walls can be useful

My brother's a professional IT bod - though has gone to the dark side and become a programmer. But he took the precaution of moving to London. I can walk to Mum's in 15 minutes - so that means I get to do the tech support.

Although last time, that also meant I got roast lamb, strawberries and cream and a piece of fruit cake to take home. So it's not all bad.

But iPads are great. Mum has a laptop, I think it gets used weekly. Everything else can be done on the iPad, sat on the sofa.

The only problem is, my brother gave her his old Macbook Air. Which gives as many trouble as her old PC, with the additional advantage that I have to work out how to use it, before I can fix it. Just having the window controls on the wrong side of the screen annoys me every time.

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Re: My Dad...

was because it wasn't a touchscreen - unlike the Surface Pro he'd treated himself to and got entirely used to.

I've tried to scroll the text up the page of my book, while tired, when reading before bed. Which is how used to reading on my iPad I've become. So am in no position to comment...

Tablets are brilliant though. We got Mum an iPad, and I've barely had to touch it. Saved me a bit of walking, but cost me a few free dinners. I still have to do stuff like transfering stuff across when she got a new one - but most of that's just because she's forgotten her gmail and/or itunes passwords.

But I'm grateful, because helping Mum is far worse than Dad was. She'll say things like, "that can't be what's wrong with it." To which the only answer is, fix it yourself then. Which I'm too nice and fluffy to say. Although it's close sometimes...

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That's why even 2 or 3 year old children can just grab a tablet and start using it. Pretty soon they can find the icons of the games they like and use the thing with minimal supervision. Whereas with a PC they've got to get the hang of keyboard/mouse input doing stuff on the screen that's over there.

With tablet it's see shiny thing, point at shiny thing, shiny thing does something.

Adults have the intelligence and experience to think this out of course. But that doesn't come automatically, so they have to stop and think a lot. And also, when being shown something on the computer they switch off brain and just half listen and robotically do as they're told. Plus the odd random mouse click, to screw things up.

Which is why I now do explaining in a two step process. Step one with me sat at PC. Slowly showing them how to do stuff, and telling them to take notes for stuff they won't remember. Step two is making them sit at PC, and not telling them how do do things, only what to do. If they can't remember, ro didn't write it down, then I explain, get them to do it, and then suggest they add it to their notes this time, as they clearly didn't remember it last time.

This mostly works. As most times they don't take a note of anything when I show them - but realise that they'd forgotten it just 30 seconds later, and so do the second time. Which then also means they've got notes in a language we've agreed between us. Also many (if not most) people remember something for longer just by the act of writing it down.

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Boeing CEO takes aim at Musk’s Starman-in-a-Tesla stunt

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Re: Not a zero sum game...

AdamT,

Sure, SpaceX will almost certainly bring new customers into the market by lowering prices. If there's something to do via satellite that's only marginally profitable now, then it could become so with $20m lower launch costs. But it will take big price drops for that to matter much, given that even a £100m launch cost is less than the $400m satellite. Figures picked out of thin air, for illustrative purposes only...

But that doesn't help Boeing if they are still charging around $100-$200m per launch - when SpaceX are currently around $60m + some discount if you take a second-hand rocket. They said in a press conference a while ago that this would be no more than 30% off. Because if SpaceX can ramp up capacity, and stay reliable, they can steal all of Boeing/ULA's customers. As well as hoovering up the shiny new ones.

I don't know how many parts any of these rockets share, but I don't think it's any at all. So I doubt that an increase in volume of SpaceX production helps anybody else. Obviously if everyone sells more, then everyone gets economies of scale. Worst-case though is SpaceX alone get the increase, they get the economies of scale, become cheaper and it becomes a virtuous circle. Plus extra death-spiral for everyone else.

Especially if the BFR turns out to be all it's cracked up to be.

Boeing would be better served by talking a lot less shit, and getting more shit done.

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And if, while watching the twin rockets landing on pillars of fire, you didn't have the Thunderbirds music ringing in your head - then you've no soul. Or are too young/old to have watched Super-Marionnation, or can't remember music.

Now where's my nuclear powered airliner!

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Best thing about a smart toilet? You can take your mobile in without polluting it

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Re: While on the theme of lower abdominal functions

Magnetic pants? What about people with prince alberts? They'll never get free!

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