* Posts by Alistair Dabbs

1238 posts • joined 19 May 2009


Not looking forward to a greyscale 2022? Then look back to the past in 64 colours

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Swapsies

Well done, Santa from Exeter.

Mme D and I went to see The Stranglers live in my city just before Christmas - and just before live gigs were banned again. It was gratifying to learn that JJB's English accent when speaking French is now as bad as mine.

He was also stumped when he wanted to make a funny comment to the crowd about the feeble mosh-pit of middle-aged men that had formed late-on during the concert: he couldn't think of what the French expression for "mosh-pit" might be. Neither could we. Any idea what it is? Une fosse de ... quelque chose.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Colour options

Those dark blue Beemers were a lovely shade; a very smart look. My boss in the late 80s had one in that colour and would lend it to me whenever he went away on vacation. I always take the piss out of BMW drivers but I always found them great to drive. Other bosses had various models of Mercedes which looked good and had well appointed interiors but were never as comfortable as the BMWs I tried.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Angel Delight

Actually, I won't be sourcing Angel Delight from anywhere. The very thought of it makes me want to barf.

France loves open source so much, even its cinema borks have Linux behind the scenes

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: French kids are taught poor English

> My experience is that foreigners speak better English/American than the natives.

Yes, I have found that the quality of written grammar in English tends to be higher among non-native English speakers (except the French). This is possibly because they learnt it more recently than the rest of us and it is still fresh in their heads: the last time that most native-English speakers had a grammar lesson was probably in primary school and we've been busking it ever since.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

French kids are taught poor English

Everywhere I go (at least back in the days when I was allowed to go somewhere), I can don a pith helmet and shout: I will be understood and even replied to in basic English. Except in France. I think the reason is that English is not taught adquately well in French schools. Brits like to beat themselves up about their poor language skills but at least they don't pretend. By contrast, the French insist on using English all over the place - in product names, in ad campaigns, even promoting public services - and it is always wrong.

For example, on my walk into town, I pass a swanky modern adult training centre dedicated to teaching English. On its front door they have put a sign reading: "Happy New Years!"

Not to mention their insistence on referring to canabis as "shit". Endless laughs with this one, especially in newspaper headlines. Just a few weeks ago we had: "Shit retrouvé dans un W.C."

Predictive Dirty Dozen: What will and won't happen in 2022 (unless it doesn’t/does)

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: "two of them within walking distance from my front door"

The brewery nearest to me - literally in the same suburb - runs a regular Christmas crowdfunder to buy an expensive new piece of kit. The reward is the same for everyone: a case of their bottled beers every month for the next 12 months. It works out at half price, as long as you're prepared to collect in person.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: "you will wake up to find a QR code tattooed onto your privates"

In case you assumed nobody would be dim enough to get a QR-Code (i.e. an entirely temporary-by-design 2D barcode), look here.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Will Happen #2: All goods are purchased through crowdfunding

"pre-ordering" just means ordering something before it has launched and made available for the first time. The hyphen helps the brain pronounce it correctly in your head.

Now, what gets on my tits is "pre-book".

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: AI transcription and translation improves massively

To be fair, this is what sub-editors have always done.

On Christmas night, a computer logs a call to say his user has stopped working…

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See you back here next week

Hello friends.

I would like you to know that my column continues through the Christmas holiday and I'll be back again next week for a New Year's Eve SFTWS.

The topic? My run-down of what WILL and WON'T happen in tech in 2022.

See you back here next Friday.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: What's with this religeous "christmas" thing?

I used to feel indignant about the Christian hijacking of winter solstice but now I feel comfortable about a universally state-accepted date for having fun.

I'd read an article by a British occultist who I respect who was trying to explain the history behind Halloween. In response to those who denigrate it for being "Americanised" he reckoned such complaints were just evidence of Europeans being envious that Americans know how to have fun.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: All I want for Crimbo

These must be earned. I am no exception, believe me.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: ALs?

In the right font, I could call myself AI.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

>> "The term "double tap" is now used to describe the broader technique of firing two rounds quickly and accurately to disable an opponent.

Interesting. I guess clay pigeon shooting could be described as "click and drag".

Thank you, FAQ chatbot, but if I want your help I'll ask for it

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Mme Dabbs...

We live by the Mediterranean coast. You wouldn't believe how much sunlight we're catching up on.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: The Two Ronnies called...

Bang to rights.

Playing jigsaw on my roof: They can ID you from your hygiene habits

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Scrodinger's Shredder

Ours just has a switch on it. Forward, off and reverse.

My car has these too but I still have trouble reversing my shredder between two filing cabinets.

A smarter alternative to password recognition could be right in front of us: Unique, invisible, maybe even deadly

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: I breathe in your general direction...

"I empty my nose" is the original quote, I believe.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: A worthy idea.

I dunno, you could try here.

Might pass by your way at the end of January if the Angoulême BD festival still goes ahead.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: I have a new earworm ...

To be fair, it was in the article sub-head.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: black

Same here in France. With asterisks to a footnote with a translation.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Ah, frustratingly short

I'm afraid I am a pay-as-you-go writer. I needed another 50p in the meter.

You forced me to use this fancypants app and now you're asking for a printout?

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Paperless?

Mine said 30 minutes. Trust you to barge in ahead of me.

One click, one goal, one mission: To get a one-touch flush solution

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Enquiring minds want to know

The plumber's email was a work of fiction. After he left the house, we never heard from him again.

It's the working man's equivalent of "just one click!" They say they will take a look and give you a free quote. What actually happens is either...

[a] they take a look and you never hear from them again (see above)


[b] they don't turn up in the first place... AND you never hear from them again.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Great Reference Mr. Brown


Remember when you thought fax machines were dead-matter teleporters? Ah, just me, then

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Fax Machines and the fan heater

Ah yes, applying a hairdryer to faxes, we did do that but I can't remember if it was a harmless prank or out of malice against someone we didn't like. I hope it wasn't the latter.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: French Banking

Holy cow, that brings back memories. Faxing from a Psion 5 with a pocket modem... I'd forgotten all about this. I had to send and receive faxes from a hotel room in Chamonix while on a snowboarding holiday in the 90s, just to complete a flat purchase that suddenly needed to complete the moment I left the country.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Era of innocence

By 1969, France Gall was 21 and not my concern any more. Mind you, sh'd been in a relationship with Claude François since 1964 (when she was 17) so maybe with Les Sucettes she was in on the joke.

Judging by the way your face lit up, my inbox just got more attractive

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Quiet in here, isn't it?

Is it everyone's day off?

All I want for Christmas is a delivery address that a delivery courier can find

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Postcode

I have suffered weird minicab drivers over the years who take the most bizarre routes, get lost and then keep asking "Are we there yet?" like a bored child. I even had one who drove all over the place through unfamiliar streets before angrily demanding: "Don't you know where you live?" All I could do was reply weakly: "Yes I do but it's not here."

I have never had a problem with a licensed cabbie. They're all mad bastards and jolly expensive but they have the skills to do the job properly.

Get real: Say what you like about your app but don't be surprised if I trollsplain

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Seen any Red Bull drinkers with wings?

Or tried to book a room for the night at Hotel Chocolat.

2FA? More like 2F-in-the-way: It seems no one wants me to pay for their services after all

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: A brilliant demonstration of how phones can become useless annoyances

Bear in mind the vid was shot about 1.5 decades ago. The target audience of MSI was unusual for an American punk band: school-age, mixed gender, cross gender, goths.

Nothing works any more. Who decided that redundant systems should become redundant?

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Not a waste

It just occurred to me that the management company is run by solicitors, and they are a paper-first profession. They feel the need, possibly a legal one, to hand over printed documents, dont they? Prince Andrew will know.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Doubting Hervé

I didn't measure the gap at first. I looked up the spec in the instruction leaflet and compared it to models of washing machine I was interested in. When I saw there was a width difference, I double-checked the tech spec on the manufacturer's website, THEN got out my tape measure. With barely a micron of leeway on either side, I knew there was no way of fitting a 5mm wider unit in the same space.

The reason I didn't include any of this detail in my story is that it's fucking boring and not funny at all.

So I’ve scripted a life-saving routine. Pah. What really matters is the icon I give it

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: French Delivery

Agree about La Poste. The front-of-desk staff are short-tempered but the sorters and posties are a smart bunch.

You walk in with a plan. You leave with GPS-tracking Nordic hiking poles. The same old story, eh?

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Nearly 100

I note there are 98 comments at the moment. This comment I am typing will make it 99. Could somebody agree/disagree/call-me-a-fascist so we can make it a round 100, please?

Much obliged.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: You may have forgotten

I am about to go on a shoppoing expedition to my local Decathlon where they DO sell wetsuits and chainsaws. Who knows what their bargain aisle is selling... tomatoes, perhaps?

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

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

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.

When everyone else is on vacation, it's time to whip out the tiny screwdrivers

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge


Please share with me the link to ifixit’s reassembling guide after changing the battery in a 2012 (Retina) MacBook Pro.

Before I agree to let your app track me everywhere, I want something 'special' in return (winks)…

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: La Quequetterie

Good suggestion. And they could name one of the flavours "Willy Gibbons".

Q: Post-lockdown, where would I like to go? A: As far away from my own head as possible

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Babylon Zoo

I seem to remember at the end of the 70s there being a clamour for the single of a new wave song "Don't Be A Dummy" off the back of a Wrangler (?) jeans advert. The problem was that Gary Numan had never recorded a full version, nor had he written it in the first place - he'd just been hired to sing a few refrains by the ad agency and that was it.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Cordon Bennet ...

No need to wait that long. I copy and paste the same jokes from week to week.

You MUST present your official ID (but only the one that's really easy to fake)

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: or that you previously suffered from COVID but aren't dead

I first read about this woman a couple of years ago. The story is fishy. It sounds as if she stopped responding to complaints from her tenant, and he mischievously got his own back.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: strong ID systems ;-)

I witnessed (what I, at least, thought was) an interesting debate at my local branch of La Poste, between a customer and the clerk behind the counter regarding what counts as a legitimate form of ID accepted by general officialdom.

The customer had tried to collect a parcel by showing the 'sorry you were out' slip and his Carte Vitale (the heath service registration card). The woman behind the desk would not accept the latter as proof of ID. The customer was a typical loopy old git and started shouting and ranting so that a manager had to come out from the back office to help.

The manager, without a beat, said that the accepted form of official ID would have to comprise all of the following...

- be issued by a governmental body

- show a photo of the person

- show the person's name

- show the person's date of birth

...and that's all.

The angry old man left with his parcel: the Carte Vitale shows all of the above.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

By the left? Are there any left-wing governments in the world? I don't think so.

Is it broken yet? Is it? Is it? Ooh that means I can buy a sparkly, new but otherwise hard-to-justify replacement!

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: That 16GB for the M1

The problem with buying an Intel Mac now is that you'll soon end up virtualising everything, including macOS itself.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: 16GB should be enough for anybody...

It depends what you’re doing. My choice of a 4K display should be a hint what I’m using it for.

The lights go off, broadband drops out, the TV freezes … and nobody knows why (spooky music)

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: Supply pipe

Yup, I had this with a toilet that wouldn't flush. I was on one of those British Gas "we fix all plumbing" insurance plans so I called them in. The man spent the day dismantling the big and reassembling it before telling me I needed to replace the whole thing.

The next day, the guy who mowed our lawn every 2 weeks went for a slash and said "oh you need a blahblah", nipped out to the DIY shop to buy one, fitted it and charged me the price of the part.

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

Re: This is why

I went up on the roof and found there was a satellite dish up there. Should I try and use that instead? What kit would I need I wonder?

Alistair Dabbs Silver badge

I probably met the last remaining telephone company employee who actually gave a damn

Years ago one summer I complained to Virgin Media that my phone line was always crackling regardless of handset or socket. A technician had a look and said he'd book some guys replace the ancient Post Office cable buried under the grass between the road and my house.

So they waited until the depth of winter to send out a team of poor sods to dig up the frozen, iron-like turf with pick axes. IT took all day.



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