back to article A speech recognition app goes into a bar. Speak up if you’ve heard it already

It has been a quiet week. Apart from the nuclear warning siren, of course. The distinctive and impressively noisy wail advising me of my imminent vaporisation sounded at 12:15pm on Wednesday. It may have sent those of a nervous disposition into a fluster but not me. I am made of sterner stuff. I knew exactly what to do. I …

  1. John Robson Silver badge

    Palm glyphs

    Were an excellent compromise.

    Close enough to the normal alphabet for the learning curve to be shallow, but distinct enough for the character recognition to be virtually flawless.

    1. Andy Non

      Re: Palm glyphs

      Still got my palm pilot in a draw upstairs. Got it free in 1998/9 during a government initiative to coax software businesses to get involved in fixing millennium bugs. It was fun writing on it using the stylus in that glyph alphabet. Nice bit of kit, never had the heart to throw it away.

    2. snowpages
      Thumb Up

      Re: Palm glyphs

      Sony CLIÉ PEG-TJ37 - Colour screen, WiFi, lovely.

      Still have two in the drawer, can't bring myself to get rid of them.

    3. Flightmode

      Re: Palm glyphs

      The Palm glyphs were great. Until you realized you were using a language that had accented characters.

    4. Luiz Abdala

      Re: Palm glyphs

      I had one Palm that was already color, very lovely. Its wake-up sign could be customized to the military trumpet style, it was lovely. The colors were washed out, but it could display all 16 of them on its backlit display. Too bad its battery died long ago, and all of its functionality got into phones anyway. I learned the glyphs at an exceptional rate, given how efficient it was.

      Another topic, the calendar allowed customized alarms even back then, very handy.

      Speaking of alarms, I worked withing range of a Nuclear Power Plant by those days, and guess what, they use the air raid siren as well.

      Maybe you are within range of a NPP in France, and not aware of it. They tested the bloody thing every fortnight, at exactly 10AM.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Palm glyphs

      "Palm Glyphs" always sounded like an ailment suffered by onanists.

      1. Agamemnon

        Re: Palm glyphs

        Palm Glyphs are just a variation of Drafting Vertical Gothic. Took me an hour to be decent and a day to be proficient since I spent four years in drafting in High School and College.

        I wish my "Smart Phone" or any of my tablets was half as proficient at stylus input (including the LG Stylo I specifically bought for the task) as the Palm III.

        (Roaring Laughter)... I shared this forum with my housemate and after a few moments, handed me a Palm III from his box o' silicon and plastic things that he also can't get rid of.

        That made my week.

        We're both having a good laugh so beers all about.

      2. Ken Shabby

        Re: Palm glyphs

        That would be "Hairoglyphs"

        1. Dr_N

          Re: Palm glyphs

          Bravo! (Have a Sunday pint.)

    6. Agamemnon

      Re: Palm glyphs

      I miss my Palm TX.

      My ExGirlfriend of twenty years ago called me a few months ago:

      Soooooo...I went through the old storage untit and I have some TShirts of yours that I'm not giving back and a Palm III with dock and manuals. You want me to send that to you?

      [Queue Dabs a few weeks ago...]

      Me. I literally cannot give that hardware away. RS232 Serial ports aren't a thing anymore. Trash it.

      She: But the computer museaum in Boulder Creek (Santa Cruz-ish) might like it.

      Me: It's literally not worth the fuel to drive it up the hill.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Palm glyphs

        You dated a woman who is reluctant to part with old technology and you broke up with her? Egads, are ye daft?

    7. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Palm glyphs

      Oddly enough my first PDA-type thing was a Handspring Treo, which ran PalmOS but had no scrawling area (other than the touch screen). Instead it had the best physical keyboard of any handheld I've encountered. The O/S was the most intuitive of any smartphone I've tried too. The worst? Android, by miles. Haven't sampled iOS.


    8. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Thanks for the Palm memories

      I worked at 3Com when they bought USR and discovered they'd also bought Palm.

      My small claim to fame was a little app I modified (the original writer was in Santa Clara and had built the framework as a demo), which let you select a conference room name from a pull down list, and popped up the building, floor and a map showing the location on that floor, of the selected room. Had to figure out the toolchain and get an open source gcc IDE set up because the official Palm development system was (a) costly and (b) cumbersome. It was a fun project for an EE.

      This was necessary because the CRs were all beautifully named using an incredibly complex naming algorithm that no one but the inventors could ever remember. "Oh, Glacier Falls? That's in Building three, fourth floor, because building three is the Pacific Northwest, and floor three is water features...or it it the other way round?" And every 3Com campus had a different scheme...mountains, cities, you name it.

      I had a nice little (non-remunerative) side business going, digitising and building custom maps (240x 320) for other 3Com locations and locations of Sales conferences, things like that. Still have some of the tchotchkes they sent me as thanks. One of the directors caught on and put me up for an "award" of something like $500 (before taxes, of course) as a thank you.

      I loved the Palm, but it doesn't hold a candle to the iPhone (even with Apple's walled garden). Too early for wifi modules by many years. And count me as a friend of the glyphs. I found them easy to use and never had a problem with them. All my Palms have been recycled long ago...

      There's a good book called "Piloting Palm"

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Palm glyphs

      I loved my Palm Pilots, especially the last one, the TX. I still believe that if the Treo had just added a capacitive screen to the TX form factor it could have been the seminal phone rather than the iPhone.

      I've also used Windows handwriting recognition since Windows XP Tablet Edition and by Win10 it is so limited I no longer have any use for it.

      1. captain veg Silver badge

        Re: Palm glyphs

        As I understand it, PalmOS could only control two radio devices, so, alongside the bluetooth, it could *either* have WiFi *or* cellular connectivity, but not both. Which is unfortunate.

        Why this limitation couldn't have been easily fixed is, I confess, beyond me.


    10. brotherelf

      Re: Palm glyphs

      I bought a m100 when I started uni, as a gimmick. I can even see my copy of the palm os programming bible from where I'm sitting right now, even if today, I'd be much more disappointed with it.

      I still think it was an awesome product line that deserved a much better fate. (And I still wonder if there's a wedge in the market to be had for an eInk Palm, either as an ebook reader with added lightweight apps, or as a PDA that frankly would run for months on a soldered-in AAA.)

      Oh, and yes, I still fill out crossword puzzles in Graffiti strokes, twenty years later.

      1. wqeroijqdf

        Re: Palm glyphs

        Using Palm changed forever how I write the number 9.

  2. Colin Bull 1

    Only once a month ..

    Here in the vicinity to Devonport we have the nuclear all clear every week.

    And it has been pointed out that if the tragic shootings in Plymouth had happened in Torpoint, no one would have noticed because we have firing practice most days of the week including weekends. And it is usual if you are are on the road in the small hours to see several dark shapes emerging from the hedgerows with pointy things in their hands.

    C'est la vie.

    1. Russell Chapman Esq.

      Re: Only once a month ..

      When Bradwell nuclear power station was still online the siren would go off from time to time, you could hear it in our village on the opposite side of the Blackwater Estuary. When it coincided with the army practising at Fingeringhoe Ranges, you could image that war had started.

      1. Nifty Silver badge

        Re: Only once a month ..

        In Bracknell a test siren would sound once per week at the same time. It was meant to be the warning siren for when there was an escape at... Broadmore Hospital.

        Perfect time to escape of course.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Only once a month ..

      I used to live a few miles from a military base used by special forces, and it was common to see them out running in pairs (as in one jogging whilst carrying the other)!

      We had a gravel drive and a dog that would bark at the first crunch. The milkman (yes, when milk was routinely delivered to the door) would stand outside and tease her as she tried to claw her way through it; she eventually wore a hole through the inner panel - a border collie, so plenty of muscle. I'm sure it was a test for the forces to manage to get up our drive at night without getting a bark! I would sometimes find new bootprints in our garden - guessing when they were creeping through at night.

      No sirens, though...

      1. Russell Chapman Esq.

        Re: Only once a month ..

        If this were a real situation, kill the dog as quietly as possible. In a training situation, a blast of doping to subdue the animal before getting it down for long enough to complete the operation.

      2. ShadowSystems

        At the AC, re your dog...

        Oh man, I thought my dog had been the world's worst sentry ever. Postman approaches & she barks her head off. Newspaper delivery boy rides up, she barks her head off. Cat stands on the top crossbeam of the fence & meows, dog barks her head off. But march an entire squad of military cadets in full ROTC battle load & she just sits there panting, drooling, & wagging her tail as each one that passes takes a moment to pet her on the head. The postman tries to pet her & she goes insane, the newspaper boy tries & she tries to bite off his hand, but a line of strange kids in pseudo-camo wearing rucksacks & stinking of sweat? "Hey! Let's give them a free pass to rob the house blind & never so much as yip a happy yap!"


        Even as stupid as she had been, I miss that old dog. If for no other reason than to see what insanity she might get up to next. "Hey look! BIRDS! Yapyapyapyapyapyapyap!" =-jp

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: At the AC, re your dog...

          She's not stupid. Postman, delivery boy, it's one to one. With a squad she's outnumbered.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Only once a month ..

      Here in NL, first Monday of the month at 12:00 sharp! never had a misfire AFAIK...

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Only once a month ..

        Here in NL, first Monday of the month at 12:00 sharp! never had a misfire AFAIK...

        In that case you are not old enough, I still remember the occasional silence on the first Monday of the month (disregarding holydays like Easter and Pentacost) and also hearing them at other days/times without cause.

      2. Manolo

        Re: Only once a month ..

        Less than three weeks ago:

    4. Hero Protagonist

      Re: Only once a month ..

      In my neck of the left-pondian woods, it’s 10am first Tuesday of the month. I used to have a collie that would howl along in sympathy with the siren.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Only once a month ..

        An air raid warning dog! That would had been handy in war times...

  3. Dr_N

    Civil Defence Siren

    I tend to open the window to share its dulcet tones if on a call. It adds a certain ambience to the proceedings.

  4. Giles C Silver badge


    Just read the zoopla advert



    Underground bunker


    It is just the casual remark in the listing that makes you wonder if the people listing it think it is a normal feature of a property?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bunker

      We've got a concrete WW2 bunker in our garden. Ideal cool place for storing home brewed wine.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Bunker

        Ideal cool place for storing home brewed wine.

        Since when is wine brewed? And how does it compare with pressed wine?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bunker

      I want a mancave like that!!!!!

      1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Bunker

        The term is "sex dungeon".

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Bunker

          On a totally unrelated note, are you Austrian, perchance?

    3. dirtygreen

      Re: Bunker size

      How does zoopla manage to believe that the overall size of the bunker area is 149.5 m² whilst simultaneously believing that the area of one part of it (bunker 1) is 23.96 x 9.14 = 219 m² ??

      Enquiring minds want to know!

      1. herman Silver badge

        Re: Bunker size

        It is larger on the inside.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bunker size

        Maybe those missing 69.5 m2 make the ‘sex bunker’ area of the bunker?

    4. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Bunker

      "982 years lease & chain free"

      In the Zoopla listing, what does the above mean? That the property has been in the same family for almost 1000 years?

      1. Manolo

        Re: Bunker

        I assume it refers to being free of ground lease for the next 982 years.

        1. David 132 Silver badge

          Re: Bunker

          More likely it means that you’re not buying the freehold, but merely a leasehold… but with such a long remaining term on the lease (982 years) that the difference is moot (the value of a leasehold property diminishes as the lease clock ticks downwards, especially once you get under 80 years or so). And for those unfamiliar with British property terminology, “chain free” simply means that there’s no onward chain, ie the buyer doesn’t have to wait for the seller to complete their own onward move or hope that it doesn’t fall through, collapsing the whole “chain” of “I can buy your property but only if the buyer of MY property successfully sells their own property and the buyer of that one doesn’t have problems with the sale of THEIR property, etc etc..”. Basically it can be turtles all the way down.

      2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: "982 years lease & chain free"

        The lease granted presumably started off at 999 years. The reference to chain free means it has a more modern WC*.

        Just clicked on the Zoopla link: Gosh I know the place, it's a stone's throw from Sadlers Wells, and used to be the Water Board's HQ. I wonder if there's any connection with the Water Board and the well which presumably was owned by someone called Sadler? The fountain at the front certainly alludes to an abundance of the stuff, which could be worrying for the prospective purchaser if there's a flood rendering the bunker useless.

        *Sigh. I had better say that it doesn't as I'm sure I will be downvoted if I don't.

      3. molletts

        Re: Bunker

        "Chain free" in the context of some of the previous posts about the potential uses for the bunker could be taken to mean that it simply hasn't got its fixtures and fittings yet ;)

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: it simply hasn't got its fixtures and fittings yet ;)

          What better way to practice waterboarding than on ex-water board hq premises*?

          Tip: A good safe word to use is F8, particularly when being booted.

          *Yes, I do realise this is not something anyone would do for fun, would they??

  5. Dr_N

    Mr Dabbs> When I am at work on the first Wednesday of any month, I book out 12 noon to 12:30 pm on my agenda as "unavailable." Besides, it's bloody lunchtime, n’est-ce pas?

    Blocking lunchtime in Outlook worked for about 3 month. Until the, "Mutter, mutter, bloody French long lunches, mutter mutter" attitude took over and people started ignoring them.

    1. Allan George Dyer

      @Dr_N - Well, be fair, 3 months is a long time for a lunch.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Well, be fair, 3 months is a long time for a lunch.

        Not according to Lig Lury Jr, the fourth editor of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

        1. David 132 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          “Missing, presumed fed”

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Edit Select-All Delete Yes"

    I can guarantee you that the guy who would try that on me would think twice before doing that again after picking up his battered body from the floor.

    I'm not a violent guy by nature, but if you sabotage my work you will pay the blood price.

    1. My-Handle Silver badge

      Re: "Edit Select-All Delete Yes"

      I'm not a violent man at all.

      With enough creativity, there are many worse things to do to a man

  7. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Mind pong works fine. Next they need to teach monkeys to type - or drive Teslas.

    1. Mark 85

      Next they need to teach monkeys to type - or drive Teslas.

      By monkeys... the totally covered in fur ones that toss crap at people or the basically hairless ones who toss crap at people and then sit in back seat and let the car drive itself? I think the later types already do drive Teslas.

  8. Rob Daglish

    Oh how I miss the palm pilot and a separate mobile phone... might have to have a snoop on eBay now. There was nothing like it for taking notes quickly.

    On the topic of the siren though - I frequently take calls from people in a nuclear plant, and they have the opposite - a sounder that goes "beep, boop" continuously. If it stops, you have the opportunity of finding out one of two interesting facts:

    1) What's gone wrong with the sounder to stop it working.

    2) If you can outrun a nuclear apocalypse.

    My vote is always for number 1. An englishman should only ever run if he's being chased by a wild animal or last orders at the bar has been called.

    1. RockBurner

      I think you'll find the only time an English Gentleman will run is when engaged in a sporting endeavour. Wild animals should be faced head on with a trusty cane.

      Even distressed damsels don't get a look in these days.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "Wild animals should be faced head on with a trusty cane."

        Or his old service revolver.

    2. Andy A

      I've worked at the odd nuclear plant (being odd goes with the territory).

      They had official "evacuation" routes marked for your convenience should the Loud Noise go off should you be walking by. Parking there was a Serious Offence.

      You tune out the incessant beeping.

      Also worked at a place involving explosives. They only tested the Armageddon Siren once a year, during the annual maintenance shutdown. Presumably, being of WW2 vintage, it is more reliable than the ones in France which need to be tested more often. Announcements were made in the press and on radio beforehand.

      I found a map showing the expected radius of property affected should something go seriously wrong. We poor blighters on site were in the central circle of the three marked.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

        I've done time in that sort of place

        One of the comedians who worked there stuck up a chart of how far to drive to escape the blast of any incoming russian nuke, along with how long it would take.

        So to drive until you were clear would take an estimated 15 mins (assuming the roads were clear...hah) said russian nuke would arrive in 4-6 mins.

        However there was a minor problem in this.... is that after 15 mins and you had managed to get clear of the target before the nuke arrived , you found that you'd arrived inside the blast zone of another target.........

  9. elsergiovolador Silver badge


    I went up the attic in my parents' house to grab some old books, when my attention was grabbed by oddly familiar beeping.

    There it was, in one of the boxes, my trusty old Sharp credit card sized data bank reminding me of an appointment I used to have ages ago.

    Can't remember ever replacing a battery in that bad boy.

    1. Alistair Dabbs

      Re: Sharp

      I had one of those. I don't know why. I expect it was in a Tandy clear-out sale one Christmas and my Mum bought it as a stocking filler.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Sharp

      I have come to the conclusion that some cheap low-power electronics are magical. Sure, they will refuse to run if there aren't some batteries in the slot, but the device doesn't actually use them once you put them in because they will run for years. I want to meet the people who designed such things and ask how they managed to get so much efficiency in their electricity use, presumably requiring quite a bit of engineering time, while also building the thing out of really flimsy plastic. Unfortunately, once I've realized that it's functioned correctly for eight years on a pair of AAA batteries, they're nowhere to be found.

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: Sharp

        Indeed, I have an old electronic thermometer which has now been running on the same set of two AA/LR6 batteries for what must be 10 years (or more). It's not the thermometer, as it has been hanging there for about 20 years, in exactly the same spot, and I clearly remember in the past I had to change batteries yearly (or at least every couple years). It's clearly the batteries I put in one day. (No, I didn't buy them in a strange cluttered shop which wasn't there anymore the next day.)

        Then again there are several strange space-time oddities in my apartment, like that old incandescent light bulb which has been reliably working for over 30 years. It just won't quit.

        Of course now I've mentioned them, I guess both will die...

      2. Ozan

        Re: Sharp

        I have Casio fx-3600Pv. Made in 1984 and still has original batteries.

        1. dajames

          Re: Sharp

          I have Casio fx-3600Pv. Made in 1984 and still has original batteries.

          The 3600Pv is solar powered, isn't it? That hardly counts.

          I have a 3600P (not solar powered) from about 1982 and I don't recall ever having changed the batteries. I hardly ever use it, now, but I've just hauled it out of its resting place at the back of my desk drawer and it still has power!

          It takes a single CR2025 3V lithium cell, and claims to use 0.00043W, according to the label on the back.

  10. Flightmode

    In Sweden, siren tests are done at 3 pm on the first Monday of the last month of every quarter* (which incidentally means this coming Monday if my calculations are correct).

    I have a recurring 30-minute appointment with a five-minutes-before alert in my calendar to clean out old gunk from my mailbox; large attachments, pointless automated mass-mailings, the ever-accruing Deleted Items and SecureCRT log files older than a given date, etc. General housekeeping duties, stuff that's enough to do every three months. But really, it's to remind me not to freak out when the sirens go off in five minutes.

    *) Wouldn't you have loved to be on the committee meeting when this schedule was decided?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      There was a siren network in the UK until 1992 (end of cold war), then most got decommissioned as maintaining them costs money. Some were kept in flood areas, however it seems residents don't find out they don't work until it's too late as maintaining them costs money.

      1. Flightmode

        For those interested in this sort of thing, if you didn't already have plans for the weekend I can highly recommend a visit to and all its sub-pages. This will keep you occupied for days.

        1. Jan 0 Silver badge

          That's worth going to, just to see "No cookies are used on this website".

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Maybe El Reg could send an intrepid reporter to do a Geeks Guide to Britain article on the Avoncroft Museum?

          "The museum also contains the UK's National telephone kiosk Collection. This is the largest collection of telephone kiosks in the country and is part of the Connected Earth heritage project. There are also three fully working analogue telephone exchanges (one of them a mobile TXE2[2]), a manual switchboard and early automatic systems. The collection shows the complete history of telephone kiosks in the UK from 1912 to the 1990s together with demonstrations of how telephone calls were routed and connected before the advent of digital technology. "

      2. Daedalus

        ISTR our school had one on the roof, and it got tested from time to time. In the days of yore, schools and churches tended to be the tallest buildings around, at least outside the town centre. Given that the school building was of Restoration vintage, the historic dissonance rivaled the dissonance of the siren itself.

      3. Stork Silver badge

        In Denmark test used to be Wednesday at noon, I think it’s once a year now. We used to say it was the reminder to gamble on the “guess the 13 footie results “ game, deadline was 15h

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Wouldn't you have loved to be on the committee meeting when this schedule was decided?"

      Wouldn't be shocked if one of the committee staffers had a quarterly report due and jokingly suggested the sirens would be a handy reminder.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: the sirens would be a handy reminder

        Can you imagine the noise if Microsoft did this for Patch Tuesday?

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: the sirens would be a handy reminder

          Can you imagine the noise if Microsoft did this for Patch Tuesday?

          Especially in those parts of the world where the patch lands at 1 AM Wednesday.

  11. First Light Silver badge


    I remember studying in Brest years ago. Despite its being a naval base I never remember hearing any kind of siren. However, the Internet sez there are tons of sirens there. Perhaps in addition to blocking out the miserable post-WW2 architecture I blocked out memory of the sirens as well. The handsome naval officers, on the other hand, I do remember quite well!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmmm

      "I remember studying in Brest years ago. Despite its being a naval base I never remember hearing any kind of siren. "

      Like everything in France, ..., it depends.

      As a french, I've been in towns where this indeed happens, like the one from my youth.

      Others, it doesn't, probably the thing was forgotten as dead in the water.

      It's been decades I haven't heard a siren test ...

    2. Dr_N

      Re: Hmmm

      First Light> I remember studying in Brest years ago

      I read this as, "studying breast".

      1. First Light Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        Ooh là là . . .

      2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        Re: Hmmm

        "studying breast"

        Please see Professor Dabbs' tutorial / study the accompanying video

    3. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Hmmm

      Yeah, I haven't heard one in years. Used to, when I first lived here. I always wondered why arsonists didn't coordinate with them.


      1. Dr_N

        Re: Hmmm

        Have heard real one twice: Forest fire and Flooding. Just need earthquake and I'll have a the full house.

        1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: Just need earthquake and I'll have a the full house.

          Hopefully one that is not full of consequential rubble.

          1. David 132 Silver badge

            Re: Just need earthquake and I'll have a the full house.

            Ech, last year at my home we had gale force winds that blew the barn roof off onto my car, and then 12 hours later, wildfires that caused us to evacuate (house, not bowels, though the latter was close). Then ice-storms that cut power for a week and brought down half my trees. Nary a siren for any of those. To be forewarned would presumably be Un-American and contrary to the rugged pioneer spirit.

  12. chivo243 Silver badge

    I touch type

    40 words per minute of a two-finger keyboard typist. !! I hit back space more that 40 time minute!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I touch type

      I've tested at over 80 wpm. 60 is a fairly bad day. Watching someone two-finger type at about 15 is painful.

      I acquired that skill playing old MUDs. If your typing speed is <10 wpm, your character will die before you can get in appropriate commands.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: I touch type

        Ha me to<break>

        > You are dead.

        > GO WEST

        > You stay out of this, you’re dead. Concentrate on developing a good rigor mortis.

  13. macjules

    I closed the window.

    I do hope you read up on your 'Direction générale de la sécurité civile et de la gestion des crises' pamphlet. Makes for slightly less humorous reading than the US "Duck and Cover" equivalent.

  14. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

    In Case of Nuclear Attack

    You have something like 12 minutes to:

    A) Set up beach chair on roof, put on sunglasses, sip adult beverage.

    B) Bend over, put your head between your legs, and kiss your ass goodbye

    The excellent Mr. Lehrer's take

  15. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Only 30 minutes for a lunch? You didn't fully adapt to your new location then. And you have to add to this the time requested for the mandatory nap!

    When you hear the sirens and it isn't the first Wednesday of the month, then check the news. Long ago it meant listening to the radio, the public radio station. Now it means probably googling. If you have no connection it could be a clue something serious is happening.

    The last time I heard those outside of the test moment was in 2001. A chemical factory just exploded killing 30, the recommendation was to stay inside to avoid potential toxic smokes travelling over the whole city and its neighbourhood. Hearing those sirens is never a good thing.

  16. Uncle Slacky

    Eat up Martha

    As title:

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I used to live within earshot of Broadmoor and its Monday 10am test siren, made famous by The Members in The Sound of the Suburbs

    1. Andy Non

      Re: Broadmoor

      I remember that one. I did my college programming placement at TRRL (Transport and road research laboratories) which were within earshot. If you also heard any loud bangs it would be when they (TRRL) were testing crashing cars and lorries into a massive concrete block outside the building. Something of a distraction when you were mid line in coding and BANG, windows rattling!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Broadmoor

      I come from near Porton, As in Porton Down. Unless it was the Monday test sirens you immediately closed all doors and windows and got the dogs and cats in.

  18. Franco

    I feel cheated

    When I hear that siren it's usually as a prelude to War Pigs by Black Sabbath.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge
      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: I feel cheated

        Two Tribes by Frankie Goes To Hollywood?

  19. herman Silver badge

    Global meteor network

    If you really want to see the apocalypse coming with your own sky observation camera, there is this:

  20. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Aroogah, Aroogah, Aroogah!

    My speciality is kicking open the nearest fire exit as soon as the fire alarm goes off in an office, supermarket or venue.

    Most people don't realise how quickly fire and smoke can spread and I have no intention of being killed in the crush when they do find out. I'm not going to make any apologies for my survival instinct.

    What's best, when it is an unannounced alarm test, that crashing through a fire exit often sets the alarms off for real and, if there are 'break this' security protections, they have to be replaced. Causing inconvenience for them is an equitable price for the inconvenience they caused me in not warning it was just a test.

    And it's hard to beat the enjoyment of a row with some management wanker or security knob insisting the fire exit shouldn't have been used and threatening to call the police over 'criminal damage' when it does happen.

    1. TheProf

      Re: Aroogah, Aroogah, Aroogah!

      Quite right too.

      I remember seeing a programme on the BBC in which an expert said to do what you said - get yourself out of the building, burning plane, exploding tram etc, and damn the slow to a painful death.

      I was the only person in the pub to dash out when the fire alarm went off that evening and I didn't even feel foolish. I'd taken my pint and it wasn't raining so not the worst evening I've had.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Aroogah, Aroogah, Aroogah!

      "And it's hard to beat the enjoyment of a row with some management wanker or security knob insisting the fire exit shouldn't have been used"

      I worked for a while in a glass-walled building that was subject to bomb threats (it also held the service desk for a large business and ne'er-do-wells liked to call threats into the widely advertised phone number). I had an argument with the facilities manager who insisted that for an escape route we proceed round the all-glass end of the all-glass building that might have a bomb in it to congregate in an open area on the opposite side of the the building to our exit. I made clear that even through the chance of a call being genuine was slight I would proceed in as straight a line as possible as perpendicular to the building as possible until I got to a safe distance.

    3. Andy A

      Re: Aroogah, Aroogah, Aroogah!

      The place I first worked was above a paint warehouse. When the alarm went there you Got Out. Once we checked the Fire Exit (not the obvious or shortest route) and found it locked. There were ructions.

      Another time, knowing that no non-restartable jobs were running on the mainframe, we tested the Big Red Switch.

      It worked!

    4. Man inna barrel

      Re: Aroogah, Aroogah, Aroogah!

      The fire alarm in offices where I worked was so loud, I am sure it was a danger to health:

      WEEWEEWEE (Where's the exit?) WEEWEEWEE (What?) WEEWEEWEE (Pardon?) WEEWEEWEE (Over here) WEEWEEWEE (What?) WEEWEEWEE (Bugger it) WEEWEEWEE WEEWEEWEE (We're all going to die in here) WEEWEEWEE (What?)

  21. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    So to invade France...

    Do it on the 1st Wednesday of the month. Can't go wrong.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Space Shuttle sonic booms

    I used to wait until the Shuttle was about to land, then take the dog for a walk. We'd be a mile from home when BOOMBOOM and 150lbs of Black Lab would levitate 3 feet and then try for its own sonic boom on the way home.

    Mean of me, but after about 3 times, the dog caught on, and would just give me an evil look.

  23. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Regular siren tests

    Was going to comment "Probably a good time to launch an attack, then."

    But then sanity prevailed as I realised it wouldn't make the blindest bit of difference.

  24. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Where's Toyah?

    I know it's 9 months since the video of Toyah was featured...

    but my mind keeps going back to it...

    The video of Alistair at the microphone with the guitars in the background and him looking to his left at 0:21 reminded me of Robert Fripp in that Video - Admittedly, Alistair does have more hair than Mr Fripp, but I next expected Mme Dabbs to come in to the frame, impersonating Toyah...

  25. dajames

    ... wags on the helpdesk would creep up from behind and murmur over my shoulder "Edit Select-All Delete Yes" into my headset mic.

    That's the trouble ... what we call voice recognition is actually voice interpretation. A proper voice recognition system would say "Hey, I know you, you're the guy from three cubicles along and you are NOT authorised to make changes on this PC!"

    1. techulture

      "Speech recognition" is a better term.

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