* Posts by Alistair Dabbs

1142 posts • joined 19 May 2009

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How to avoid pesky border controls: Be a robot truck driver… or insanely rich

Alistair Dabbs

Re: totally distracted Toyah Fan... :O

I saw Robert Fripp play live when I was a student in the 80s. He was with his League of Crafty Guitarists (i.e. his music students) performing at the Irish Centre in Leeds.

It wasn't your typical gig: he paused towards the end to take questions from the audience. Someone asked the forbidden question that we all wanted to ask him but were too scared: "What's the tuning for your strings?" (Fripp and his students famously employ an unconventional 'alternative' guitar tuning) He kept a poker face and answered: "Good question. Next question."

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Are we talking end-of-the-road ala Adobe Flash or Internet Explorer in Teams?

No, it's deliberate. I was taking back control.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: ePassports

I'll be applying for a tartan passport after Scottish independence.

Dropbox basically decimates workforce, COO logs off: Cloud biz promises to be 'more efficient and nimble'

Alistair Dabbs

"One of the toughest decisions"

Oh diddums. Don't you love it when a guy at the top tries to reframe the ruining of people's lives as all being about him? British prime ministers do this a lot too: "I struggled with this decision for ages and now I'm jolly upset about it; think about me me me me me me and my pouty lip, not about those I am casting into the pit of mid-recession unemployment."

Two wrongs don't make a right: They make a successful project sign-off

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Just for reference, it's not a tripod

And taking inspiration from the author's name, the coin will be commemorating the works of GH Bells.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Grauniad fluffed it again.

I wondered about this but am not convinced. From time to time, someone claims the tripod depicted on the album cover of Jeff Wayne's WOTW has four legs until it's pointed out to them that what might look like a front leg is the "heat ray".

Alistair Dabbs

stationary supplies

I do hate it when they move around.

What can the 1944 OSS manual teach us before we all return to sabotage the office?

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Brlliant

Happy New Year to you too, Jason.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: That list!

Happy New Year Mr. Dabbs!

And to you, chivo.

My website has raised its anchor and set sail into the internet oceans without me

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Respect

Thanks for the good wishes. Sorry I wasn't in here yesterday but if you read 'Wimps' you'll be aware that I have been trying out 5G on a new handset. Today I am cancelling the 5G contract and reverting to 4G - which is what the phone kept doing anyway. The 5G-capable phone is going back too.

This product is terrible. Can you deliver it in 20 years’ time when it becomes popular?

Alistair Dabbs

Re: "wrapped in sandpaper"

>> don't the ladies (Icon) appreciate a bit of rough!

No.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: "It will never catch on"

I fancy a bottle of nettle wine now.

Alistair Dabbs

Infra-red

The best thing about line-of-sight remote controls is that they don't upload your button presses to a server in California.

What does my neighbour's Tesla have in common with a stairlift?

Alistair Dabbs

Re: All very well

Hang on, no, I think it was "stationner". I didn't keep a copy.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: All very well

Ne pas garer devant ma maison (i.e. all very impersonal).

Alistair Dabbs

Re: EVs = bad for planet, bad for poor people, bad for practicality

I reckon you could alleviate 50% of the world's grid consumption by 2030 by banning cryptocurrencies.

Alistair Dabbs

Funny headline

Reg sub-editors have saved my vegetarian bacon* again with the headline, which is much funnier than the one I suggested.

[*A no deal Brexit means I can call all meat products "vegetarian" whenever I want.]

Running joke: That fitness gadget? It's, er, run out

Alistair Dabbs

Re: why?

Strap the device onto your dog. It's in these small acts of rebellion that life expresses itself.

Arm at 30: From Cambridge to the world, one plucky British startup changed everything

Alistair Dabbs

When I met Steve Furber

An opportune moment to remind readers of this interview I did with Prof Steve Furber a few years ago at a stand-up lunch while he was trying to eat his sandwiches.

If I pedal faster and feed it spinach, my robot barman might pull more pints

Alistair Dabbs

"Innovations" catalogue

It's my own fault that I receive them as I unpeeled the ugly STOP PUB ("no junk mail") sticker from my letterbox when I moved in. In France you get heaps of printed junk stuffed in there almost every day, which Mme D was not too pleased about at first. However, some of it provides amusement and quite a lot of it comes with generous money-off vouchers to spend at all the highly competitive supermarkets nearby. Over the summer, I must have saved a good 200-300€ on my shopping just using freebies in my junk mail.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Re fooling the exercise bike settings

I'm not staff.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Re fooling the exercise bike settings

Brushing my teeth is as good as 20 burpees according to my Fitbit.

Master boot vinyl record: It just gives DOS on my IBM PC a warmer, more authentic tone

Alistair Dabbs

Audio 1s and 0s

This is performance art. What next - sending a one-page fax over the course of 24 hours by playing the bongos?

NCSC's London HQ was chosen because GCHQ spies panicked at the prospect of grubby Shoreditch offices

Alistair Dabbs

Shoreditch would be great...

...if the NCSC was happy to get by on 4Mb/sec. Tech was attracted there by the low rents, not the comms infrastructure. Still, just think of all those tattoo parlours they're missing out on.

Not sunshine, moonlight or good times – blame it on the buggy

Alistair Dabbs

Re: "It's the system"

>> style over function

Oh yes. And it amuses me, in a negative way, that brands spend so much cash on hiring SEO snake oil gurus to persuade Google's algorithms to put them at the top of the SERP when Google's algorithms are simultaneously pushing them downwards because of UX and loading speed howlers. For the price of a SEO consultant, they could hire two web developers who'd fix the real problem *and* reduce bounce rate within days.

I feel another column coming on...

Alistair Dabbs

Re: "It's the system"

I used to be spectacularly bad at User Acceptability Testing because I'd follow the actions in the test script to the letter. What I should have been doing is press all the wrong buttons, because that's what users do. I'm now on several beta prerelease programs and do my best to cock everything up in the most bizarre, unlikely and foolish ways, thereby more closely matching real-world usage.

[Checks meeting agenda...] Where does it say 'Talk cr*p and waste everyone's time'?

Alistair Dabbs

Re: That guy

A Confederacy of Idiots...

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Bah!

One of my graphic design colleagues streams his webcam feed via one of those 3D character apps and then into whatever vidconf software is required for the meeting. So we can see and hear him just fine, scratching his head, talking in all seriousness etc but it's an animated cartoon wolf or something.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: no extra screen?

It's complicated. I often use software that is processor-intensive and this sets the fans off at full blast. As well as being annoying, it means I have to shout over the noise when delivering online training or participating in a meeting. The optimum place to keep it is at my feet under the desk, raised on heat-resistant stilts to let air flow underneath and prevent it from burning through the floor like face-hugger blood.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Skindred

I was on assignment in Beijing in 1993 for the launch of a Chinese computer mag and there were no independent repro houses, only those in government-owned newspapers. So they had to buy their own Linotron filmsetter from a supplier in Hong Kong. It turned up accompanied by a pair of installers who spent the week shitting themselves because their parents were among those who had escaped the mainland and they were worried they might have trouble being allowed on the flight home. As it turned out, they were fine. They simply spent the week shitting themselves literally because the Mandarin food didn't agree with them.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Skindred

I can't get enough of them at the moment. That latest album was just great.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Missed one...

Too American. I'd need a product beginning with C to alliterate with courgette. I also missed out "GoTo-ed my gonads" and "Webexed my wanger".

Alistair Dabbs

The first time I saw this in action was standing at the urinals in the Ziff-Davis toilets next to Guy Kewney and he began talking to me in an uncomfortably friendly way, a little loudly I thought. I only realised he was wearing a (pre-Bluetooth) cordless headset when he zipped up, walked to the basin to wash his hands, dried them and walked out while still talking.

Shopping online for Xmas? AI chatbots know whether you want to be naughty or nice

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Great article, once again !

The trick with blockchain is to try to forget anything to do with monetary currency and concentrate on its application as a distributed, tamper-proof database which engenders mutual trust. Four years ago when I was still trying to warn people about the financial Ponzi scheme that is cryptocurrency, I wrote this about using blockchain for environmental applications.

Alistair Dabbs

I'm absolutely impressed by blockchain. It's cryptocurrencies that I think are not to be trusted.

Alistair Dabbs

Missing bits

You won't have noticed but three paragraphs fell out of my column this week. They concerned an automated metadata tagging system devised by a porn site to recognise and tag different types of sex act in user-uploaded videos. This is what I was referring to in my sig at the end.

Was that November's Patch Tuesday? Already? Oh, no, it's just Adobe issuing 14 emergency security fixes

Alistair Dabbs

psst... Nobody told Creative Cloud about the update

The Creative Cloud desktop utility remains blissfully unaware of the update. Until somebody at Adobe tells somebody else at Adobe that Adobe has issued an update, you'll have to check for updates yourself from Acrobat DC's Help menu.

Return of the flying car, just when we all need to escape

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Thanks

I'm in a town house in a built-up city suburb filled with modern developments of new flats. I can *walk* into the city centre from my front door in 35 minutes. Orange (i.e. France Telecom) has a map that shows the suburb is fully fibre-cabled but it certainly is not. Everybody I know here is the same as me, stuck trying to telework on DSL. There's a co-working space round the corner that has cable but of course it's closed due to the lockdown.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Mark Arony and Al Dente?

No chance of syphoning off the pipe going in to Stockley Park?

Alistair Dabbs

Re: 5G

The local Greens are trying to get a moritorium placed on the 5G roll-out by Orange. I don't mind them worrying about such things: worrying is good, it helps keeps us safe. But it is frustrating to have politicians tell me to telework while deliberately hamstringing my ability to do so. I'd settle for mediocre fibre.

Ho hum: If you're so artificially intelligent, name this song while my videos go viral

Alistair Dabbs

Tell me more about the lizards and the Clintons injecting virgin blood.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Name that accent

Snob.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Quelque chose pour le weekend, Monsieur?

Ah, mais ce n'est pas à moi ce titre. Il a été choisi par mon pote chez El Reg il y a 8 ans.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Welcome back!

Well, what you do is get The Reg to send you a custom notification whenever SftWS is published on a Friday. Just go to your registered user page, click on Alerts and ask for an email when my byline in on an article.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: ..also unrelated

It's definitely private school.

The vid-confs drinking game: Down a shot of brandy every time someone titters 'Sorry, I was on mute'

Alistair Dabbs

>> a modern rendition of a silent movie

Now, I like that idea. I could prepare some silent movie-style title cards, white text on black background plus a squiggly swash symbol, to hold up in front of my webcam when this happens. It'll keep me from reaching for the shot glass.

From the Department of WCGW: An app-controlled polycarbonate lock with no manual override/physical key

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Come on, Dabbsy, you French is better than that

That's more of the story. If you want the full story, start with the Big Bang, work your way through primordial soup, dinosaurs etc. But that was too long to fit in two sentences, so I focused on "woman Photoshops travel document".

Alistair Dabbs

ReMission

I know that lots of Reg readers have their Web browsers set up to block ads, vids, JavaScript, electrons etc so I want to be sure you are aware that my closing music video this week is a charity single, raising money for health workers.

I am not asking you to contribute - God knows, I'm sick of being asked to give money - but I recommend you watch the YouTube vid so that YouTube might give them money. You can buy the song at The Mission's website and the money goes to the charities etc yadda but don't do this unless it's the best song cover you've heard all week.

Just so you know, it's like Band Aid (it even begins with Midge Ure) but everyone else on the song is 80s-alt-rock-new-wave. Even Kirk Brandon's on it and I thought he was dead.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Welcome back

Thanks. What I really need, though, is social shares and recommendations. If I can't get more readers in here, I'm out on my arse again.

Alistair Dabbs

Re: Welcome back

>> This column is one of the best things about The Register.

Thanks, Mum!

[... thinks...]

Thanks, my Mum's ghost!

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