* Posts by Eclectic Man

2859 publicly visible posts • joined 4 Jun 2010

Authors Guild sues OpenAI for using Game of Thrones and other novels to train ChatGPT

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Re: Only the living can sue.

Both 'Snuff' and 'The Shepherd's Crown' were written when Sir Terry's Alzheimer's disease was progressing. He had posterior cortical atrophy (PCA for short). Later as his disease progressed. according to his PA, Pratchett was still very good at scenes, but slightly less good at the general sweep of narrative.

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Re: Only the living can sue.

In a documentary I saw, Terry Pratchett stated that he could give someone else the plot of the next Discworld novel, and all the jokes, but that what they wrote would not be a 'Discworld' novel. He also wrote in one of his articles ('A Slip of the Keyboard' collection) that people would write to him with ideas for Discworld novels, and want half the royalties, as if writing it down was a mere administrative activity.

The cadences of words, alliteration, timing, vocabulary, and invented words ("apocralypse" and "charisntma" spring to mind) are essential to the style and enjoyment of the books. The issue is not merely that an AI generated book purporting to be from a famous author is not genuine, but that a person reading it first would likely be put off from reading a genuine work by that author due to the lacklustre nature of AI generated text.

However much I would like to read a new Discworld novel, I wouldn't want it to have been written by a computer.

Could ChatGPT really have come up with:

"Most species do their own evolving, making it up as they go along, which is the way Nature intended. This is all very and organic and in tune with the mysterious cycles of the Cosmos, which believes that there is nothing like millions of years of evolving to give a species moral fibre and, in some cases, backbone."

(Quoted at the start of chapter 2 of "African Exodus" by Chris Stringer and Robin McKie, ISBN0-224-03771-4.)

As TikTok surveils staff's office hours, research indicates WFH is good for planet

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Joke

re: company management

DanUK: Maybe they should spend less money on new tech and concentrate on the fundamentals, ie managing people effectively in both office and remote settings.

Umm, I'm reasonably happily 'retired', but if you come across a company like that, do let me know.

(Ok, only joking! There aren't any.)

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Meh

What I miss from working in the office

Mainly the colleagues and the air conditioning.

I still chat with them in a conference call once a fortnight (now that I am officially retired), but in the heat I really did miss that air-conditioning, which is energy intensive.

I did work on a bid once, many years ago, for the Environment Agency, and they insisted that we record our carbon footprints for travel to work, and minimise it. Of course they forgot that people travel to places other than work, like, for example, doing the school run, or another person in the household also working (but somewhere else). So good that they considered the carbon footprint, but only 6/10 for not thinking it through.

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Unhappy

Re: Impact in performance reviews

Peter2: "The team manager responsible for that lot was utterly livid at their underlings being redeployed to do something productive that benefitted the business, and never forgave me for their little empire being broken up because their number of direct reports fell"

I suspect that it was more the fact that you had showed him up for being so incompetent that he had not thought of and implemented your idea first. As Douglas Adams noted in the Hitch-Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy: "The one thing respectable physicists really couldn't stand was a smart-arse."

International Criminal Court hit in cyber-attack amid Russia war crimes probe

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Re: ICC - International Criminal Court (or vassals of the USA empire)

The USA did not create the ICC.

The list of signatories to the Rome Statue, which created the ICC is here:

https://internationalcriminalcourtnashie.weebly.com/signatories-of-the-rome-statute.html#:~:text=Around%20139%20States%20have%20signed,%2C%20Nauru%2C%20Slovenia%20and%20Zambia.

Menacing marketeers fined by ICO for 1.9M cold calls

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Unhappy

Spam calls

Sadly the spam calls I get are from crooks who seem to think that I'll take the bait that my 'bank' has called about 'unusual transactions' on my 'card' which I can query by speaking to them by hitting "2", or that 'the Sky' is calling me about my my internet connection (I'm not with 'Sky'). So claiming I'll report them to the ICO is a bit pointless. I've had 3 in the past week to my landline, so I assume that my number has been sold on again.

Oh well, at least it gives me something to whinge about.

Scientists suggest possible solution to space-induced bone loss

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'Just One Thing'

In the new series of 'Just One Thing' this morning, Dr Michael Mosley said that drinking several cups of tea every day was associated with stronger bones. Not sure whether the chemicals from tea are the same or similar to the one in the article.

Concorde? Pffft. NASA wants a Mach 4 passenger jet

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Re: The real problem with Concorde.....

Reading the accumulated posts in response to yours, martinusher, I am even more impressed with the Concorde aircraft than I was before. Even though it could not carry a full load of passengers on the London - New York route, for which it was in theory designed, it seems to have been a genuine technological masterpiece of its day.

Makes me feel rather nostalgic, even though I never flew in it.

I did hear a radio program that it was the subject of considerable attempts by Russian agents to obtain technical information. To the extent that one 'operation' was to scrape rubber off the tarmac where it had landed to be analysed. MI5 got there first and ensured that the 'sample' had the consistency of chewing gum. The other problem the Russians had with their rival, the Tupolev Tu144, was the absence of any long routes to fly over sea, so the sonic boom was a bit of a problem.

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Re: The real problem with Concorde.....

On paper Concorde was faster (Mach 2) than the original USAF F-16 (Mach 1.95).

The Olympus engines were supposed to be used in the UK's TSR-2, but the Wilson government scrapped it, even though it was technically very capable, though I don't know its design top speed.

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Re: Civilian spend on, uh...

"peas frozen in the field are fresher than never frozen peas"

Not if you literally grow your own in your back garden and pick what you want just before dinner, as my father used to.

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Re: Heat

Confused.

If the SR71's pair of Pratt 7 Whitney JT58d* engines needed fuel that that ate through the rubber fuel tank linings, how did the fuel tanker aircraft carry it for refuelling after take-off? They would have needed some sort of sealing for the refuelling mechanism as the joints had to be flexible.

* (if I have remembered the description from the 'Observers' Book of Aircraft' 1972 edition correctly)

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FAIL

Re: This project must not be allowed to happen

Aircrew might be difficult to find, and insurance premiums would be ... exorbitant, plus the problem with 9/11 was not merely that the aircraft were hijacked, but that they were crashed deliberately into occupied buildings, so this is pretty much not something any government would authorise, ever.

Hope for nerds! ChatGPT's still a below-average math student

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Just wondering

Whether the 'results' of ChatGPT versus human students says more about the subject than the marks? But I guess that maths is maybe still a bit too precise for AI (although arithmetic should not be a problem).

After all, ChatGPT has an extensive collection of books it has 'read' from which it can choose items for an answer, whereas students (and probably some professors) have not read nearly as many texts, or remembered them as accurately as a computer can. In maths you cannot just 'make stuff up' and hope that if it looks ok you will get marks. Well, OK, when I was marking undergraduate examples and tests, I think some of them did just that, but I didn't give them any marks for it.

Moscow makes a mess on the Moon as Luna 25 probe misses orbit, lands with a thud

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Joke

Re: Hmmm

This is one of the main benefits of democracy - leaders can retire in reasonable safety when they go out of favour. Provided they haven't been too criminal they will have some protection (as the next lot will want to 'retire' in safety in a few decades too). I mean look at some of the UK's 'retired' politicians: Tony Blair for all his good works will be remembered chiefly for going to war in Iraq, (Baron) William 'Matrix Churchill' Waldegrave sold arms to Iraq (see Tony Blair above) contrary to the guidelines provided to parliament and would have allowed the Matrix Churchill directors to be prosecuted until they said they'd spill the beans on him and the UK's Secret Intelligence Service (aka MI6) giving them permission. Various Home Secretaries have been found to have acted 'unlawfully' while in office, but faced no penalties. Chris Grayling was a disaster at both Transport and Justice Departments but unaccountably walks free to this day (when is his political memoir coming out, should be a barrel of laughs?).

The problem is that when you set the precedent of imprisoning, assaulting or killing your opponents, eventually you realise that whoever takes over from you is likely to follow your example, so you have to hang on to power for as long as you can when any sensible person would have said 'enough's enough' and buggered off to the country dacha and raised chickens and cherries. Of course! That's it! Putin doesn't want to invade Ukraine, he just wants it as his retirement smallholding! Now I understand.

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Not Putin's Day

On top of a slight navigational hiccup for the Moon Lander, one of Russia's supersonic aircraft was 'damaged' recently:

"A flagship Russian long-range bomber has been destroyed in a Ukrainian drone strike, according to reports.

Images posted on social media and analysed by BBC Verify show a Tupolev Tu-22 on fire at Soltsy-2 airbase, south of St Petersburg.

Moscow said that a drone was hit by small-arms fire but managed to "damage" a plane. Ukraine has not commented.

The Tu-22 can travel at twice the speed of sound and has been used extensively by Russia to attack cities in Ukraine."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-66573842

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Re: "Luna 25, by contrast, tried to make the trip in nine days"

MachDiamond: Unfortunately, far too many people in the US can't give a good definition of Communism, Socialism and Capitalism.

"Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it's just the opposite."

John Kenneth Galbraith* (https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/john_kenneth_galbraith_122383)

Come to think of it, I would have trouble giving any sort of coherent definitions of those three. I've never read 'Das Capital', 'The Wealth Of Nations' or any serious book explaining 'Socialism'. (I've never read 'Mein Kamppf' either, so I do not properly understand National Socialism, except they killed a lot of people and were generally nasty and interested in stealing wealth, and I'm just lucky my father's family got out in April 1939. Although I did read Nietzsche's 'On the Genealogy of Morals', which is, as far as I can make out (And to quote Shakespeare), 'full of sound and fury, signifying nothing' [Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps on this petty pace, day by day, and all our yesterdays serve only to light a path for fools to dusty Death. Out, Out brief Candle etc.])

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Kenneth_Galbraith

Resilience is overrated when it's not advertised

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Facepalm

Re: More fail over lore.

Was it this one:

"The Daily Telegraph in 2009 exposed [Douglas] Hogg for claiming upwards of £2,000 of taxpayers' money for the purposes of "cleaning the moat" of his country estate, Kettlethorpe Hall; "

?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_Hogg#:~:text=The%20Daily%20Telegraph%20in%202009,parliamentary%20expenses%20scandal%2C%20although%20it

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Facepalm

Re: Fallback fault-tolerant Tolkein names

Elongated Muskrat: the rule about Goblin Combe is: don't tell people about it, or it'll be swarming with people ruining it

Ooops! (Sorry.)

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Childcatcher

This story and thread ...

... merely confirm me in my believe that 'The Register' and the reader comments pages should be MANDATORY READING for all MP's Peers of the Realm and all PPE and MBA students.

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Joke

Re: Failover backup redlining

Dear Coward,

We're not out to get you, we're out to get everyone.

MWhahahaha

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Joke

Re: Failover backup redlining

Dr Syntax: And make sure the users know this and understand the implications.

Are you mad?

Don't tell the users anything, they'll want explanations and promises. They'll complain to you that 'it doesn't work' or 'it's too slow' or 'You said this would be OK and it isn't.' Heh will ask 'Why isn't it working?' and 'How long before I can use it again?' and 'Can I just print this out before you shut the whole thing down again?'

Shakes head in disbelief at some people's naïveté .*

*Accents and spelling courtesy of Apple spell-checker suggestion. No, I have no idea how to get two dots overt a lower case i.

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Unhappy

Re: Failover backup redlining

Steady on, chaps!

The person who designed it probably specified an equal system, but then got overruled by 'management' who wanted to save some cash, and possibly reasoned that a failover system would only be used for a short time while the main system was fixed' of whatever malady had occurred. It is whoever authorised the lower powered back-up system who deserves your opprobrium. I mean, who has not come across systems hampered by management's failure to shell out the necessary dosh?

Eclectic Man Silver badge

Re: Fallback fault-tolerant Tolkein names

In a collection of Terry Pratchett's articles about life, he recounts a book signing where one lady approached him, he asked her name. She mumbled something, which he could not hear, he asked again, another mumble. third time of asking it transpired her given name was Galadriel. He asked if she had been born on a Welsh commune. She said not, it was a caravan in Cornwall, but basically hippy parents.

Lots of rock climbs at a place called 'Goblin Combe' are named after Tolkien people and places especially those on Owl Rock and Orthanc : https://www.ukclimbing.com/logbook/crags/goblin_combe-44/

Curiosity finds evidence of wet and dry seasons on ancient Mars

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Alien

Re: Life's history

More to the point (for us), would it recognise us as a life form?

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Joke

Re: Nobody is visiting anybody

Romani ite domum*

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjOfQfxmTLQ

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romani_ite_domum#:~:text=%22Romani%20ite%20domum%22%20(English,Monty%20Python%27s%20Life%20of%20Brian.

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Unhappy

Re: Life's history

spold: either there is a general rule to not interfere with evolving civilisations, or we are completely boring.

Or maybe our society is considered too erratic and violent to risk overt contact? Just looking at the television and radio programs, and the news programs we've been broadcasting for decades, how could any alien species even consider contacting 'humanity' under the current conditions?

Judge denies HP's plea to throw out all-in-one printer lockdown lawsuit

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Re: To add to this...

It may also be eventually cheaper if you only print occasionally. I would print a page or two maybe once every two months, but the cartridges would just dry out and the Canon PIXMA would demand an almost complete set of new cartridges just to print out a letter (in Black ink too, it still wanted all the colour cartridges). At the time I considered £56 to print out a letter a bit steep. Hoping my Epson will still print after a month of doing nothing, if I keep it out of the sunlight.

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Re: To add to this...

I just purchased an Epson EcoTank ET-2856, which arrived with three colour bottles of ink, and two larger bottles of black ink. Hoping that this will be cheaper to run and keep up with drivers for OS releases better than my Canon PIXMA.

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Re: Epson

Rope: I now use a Canon inkjet for the same purpose and it too will happily scan if a cartridge runs out,

Which one? I have a canon PIXMA MG6150, and I've never managed to get it to scan when it wants a new ink cartridge. I am replacing it anyway as I now find getting a driver impossible, and, of course, a new set of Canon ink cartridges costs more than Grand Cru Champagne.

Most distant observed star is blue – and it isn't alone

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Re: Names (An Aside)

I reckon that "Twoflower" could be a nice name for a nebula or pair of interacting galaxies. (Although I doubt that 'foul ol' Ron' will be used any time soon.)

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Names (An Aside)

The play 'Translations' about English cartographers mapping Ireland raises the point that people in different places often have different names for teh same geographical features, and deciding which name to put on the map can be problematical. In Hemel Hempstead, where I grew up, there is a road at one end called 'Red Lion Lane', but it has a different name at the other end (I forget what now, it has been a while).

It is interesting to see what names astronomers give to new discoveries. Tolkien's fantasy world still provides much inspiration, but I wonder if I can look forward to the next few decades when we'll have stars and nebulae named after Discworld (R) characters.

Get your staff's consent before you monitor them, tech inquiry warns

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OII

OII is the Oxford Internet Institute : https://www.oii.ox.ac.uk

Boffins say they can turn typing sounds into text with 95% accuracy

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Happy

Bach, Beethoven or Mozart?

Well, instead of playing annoying background sound of typing, how about some J S Bach, L van Beethoven or W A Mozart? Their piano music is superb and complicated and

Oh, just realised that I was listening to the music instead of typing.

As you were.

Experiment arrives at the ISS to see if astronauts can keep things cool

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Joke

Re: Tea

Normally the cooked scone is divided into two 'halves'. The hardened outer shell being considered to the 'bottom' and the softer, fluffier interior to be the 'top'. I am given to understand that a properly cooked scone can be pulled apart readily. Badly cooked scones need to be cut with a knife (or chisel*). Sweet scones are easier (in my experience) than cheese scones, where the addition of cheese makes rising much more difficult to control.

*The 'Scone of stone' (https://discworld.fandom.com/wiki/Scone_of_Stone) may not be particularly 'fluffy' inside.

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Joke

Tea

I thought the Russians had installed a samovar in the ISS? They tracked a puncture by following an errant tea-bag, according to https://www.theregister.com/2020/10/22/space_in_brief/ . And tea requires boiling water (usually), and a tea-pot and cups and saucers.

Clearly things are different in space, but I do hope the astronauts and cosmonauts can still enjoy a nice scone with jam, cream and a cup of Earl Grey of a Sunday afternoon.

Astronaut-menacing sunstorm spotted rippling across inner solar system

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Re: How do you like your astronaut?

"Luckily, it occurred between the Apollo 16 and 17 missions when nobody was on the moon."

Well ,indeed, but even were astronauts on the moon, there is always the Command Module Pilot orbiting the moon. One the moon's surface they might be able to hid behind a rock, but the orbiting craft could only change attitude to shield the Command Module with the booster, if not shielded by the Moon itself. Not a a happy thought.

Official science: People do less, make more mistakes on Friday afternoons

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"words typed"

Do the statistics include posts on this here web site? And all the times I've typed "teh" instead of "the"?

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Re: Dire Straits

On 'the continent', Friday Afternoons already seem to have been abolished. Try getting a call through to company in, say, Portugal, on a Friday afternoon. They sensibly take a siesta. (At least I have never got through at the end of the week.)

Meta says it'll ask Euro peeps nicely before hitting them with personalized ads

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Childcatcher

Re: Nice one Boris

someone has to complain to trigger things

This is true in more ways than one, at least in the UK. When my mother was a lay magistrate she had one case where a group of young people had 'streaked' down a high street in broad daylight and promptly been arrested for 'conduct liable to cause a breach of the peace'. However, the clerk to the court informed the magistrates that unless the defendants pleaded 'guilty', they would have to be let off as no one had actually complained to the police.

It required a 'member of the public' to complain, because, of course, no police officer would 'cause a breach of the peace'. This was also a defence against the crime of 'gross indecency', where you get away with quite a lot in a 'public place' if you had 'a reasonable expectation of privacy'. (Not that I ever tried that one.)

NASA and pals complete Artemis II recovery dress rehearsal

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Thumb Up

Successful test

Looks like quite a thorough test, although the article did not say if the recovered members of the recovery team were wearing spacesuits, still thumbs ups and hope for a successful mission for Artemis III.

Brit healthcare body rapped for WhatsApp chat sharing patient data

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Facepalm

Re: Replacement of GDPR

My comment was about the replacement to the GDPR, and the weakening of the ICO. I should have made it clear that I was not commenting on the judgement made in the case in the article, which is my fault, sorry.

If I recall correctly the first person prosecuted under the old Data Protection Act was a vicar who used his computer to manage the Boy Scouts troop he led, but had not actually sought their parents' permission to hold their personal information on said computer. Contrast this with the case when a customer of Barclays Bank discovered that he could view anyone's account details except his own and the ICO did not prosecute Barclays and he had a great deal of trouble in getting the bank to apologise for claiming he had hacked into their system.

In the case in the article, although technically they breached the GDPR, it would appear they had a genuine clinical reason for transferring the information, and frankly if my health depended on someone using insecure comms once in a while, I probably would not mind that much.

Have an upvote yourself, as I know that in the UK NHS staff are under a great deal of stress.

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Unhappy

Replacement of GDPR

"According to the latest draft, the Secretary of State can use a statutory instrument to change, add or remove "the databases which the Board is required to oversee," rename the Board; or "require or authorise the Board to issue a code of practice or guidance" – a situation which would undermine the regulator's independence and influence its guidance and priorities."

Basically, if an entity is able to hold the rich and powerful to account, it must be curbed and held under ministerial control. Independence is essential for any credibility for the ICO or whatever replaces it / him / her / them. Is this just an attempt to ensure that rich and powerful businesses can use personal data for profit without having to worry about being held responsible for using it without permission or holding it safely and securely?

Twitter's giant throbbing X erected 'without a permit'

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Facepalm

Still, at least he hasn't put the thing in low Earth orbit and upset astronomers with the brightness of its reflection of sunlight. Only a very inconsiderate person would do something like that.

Oh.

https://www.space.com/spacex-starlink-satellites.html

Nobody would ever work on the live server, right? Not intentionally, anyway

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Antron Argaiv: Of course, today, I don't think anyone still makes prints with an enlarger

Some people still make enlargers, and sell them:

https://www.firstcall-photographic.co.uk/beseler/b196

https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/uk/buying-guides/best-darkroom-equipment-photo-enlargers-film-tanks-trays-safelights

https://intrepidcamera.co.uk/collections/darkroom

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Unhappy

Well, I don't know about any actual IT systems out there, but our politicians seem to have exactly that 'let's try it and see' attitude towards social policy changes*, particularly the NHS ...

*But only for the ones poor people use, not for the rich, obviously.

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Coat

Re: Don't let that guy work without supervision

Hopefully he developed into a more aware person, and maintained his positive outlook.

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Re: Shouldn't pwople tell him there was a problem?

I did wonder why no one at the company had noticed that they were running from the back-up system, and told him. Why didn't they realise this? A properly configured system should have sent some sort of alert when the live server failed and the back-up server took over, I would have thought.

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Chemical Photography

I use a stop bath for film developing and processing. I heard on a YouTube presentation that the standard chemicals will process two 8x10 sheets of film, or their equivalent, which means that my two developing tanks (one for roll film and one for 4x5 sheet film) will actually process twice their capacity. So I load up the tank, pre-wash the film ( Ilford HP5+) develop, stop, fix and wash, while saving the chemicals for another round. The stop bath does help to preserve the efficacy of the fix solution. It works. Now, admittedly I'm unlikely ever to make images as wonderful as Evelyn Hofer (current exhibition at the Photographers' Gallery in London well worth a visit) but hey, it is good fun.

Evelyn Hofer: https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/whats-on/evelyn-hofer

Her still life photographs are amazing (link too long, just search)

I'm using an Intrepid Cameras 4x5 Mk4: https://intrepidcamera.co.uk/collections/camera

(Yes, I am retired and have oodles of time, and a bit of spare money.)

A room-temperature, ambient-pressure superconductor? Take a closer look

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There are also cloud forests, where it rarely rains, https://www.monteverdeinfo.com/cloud-forests