* Posts by Spamfast

251 posts • joined 23 Jun 2010


Forget tabs – the new war is commas versus spaces: Web heads urged by browser devs to embrace modern CSS


Re: Stupid millennials

Where's the Oxford comma in “Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod and a dildo collector.”

“Highlights of his global tour include encounters with Nelson Mandela, an 800-year-old demigod, and a dildo collector.” contains an Oxford comma.

By your measure though, it's still ambiguous because it could still be two or three highlights. What should I do - put two commas after "Mandela"?!

I don't need an Oxford comma to rule out Nelson being divine or ancient because I'm not superstitious and I haven't been living in a cave for the past fifty years so I know that he was a person and that people can't be demigods and don't live to 800. This means that the sentence must be referencing three highlights not two or one. One has to be sensible about when something might need a clearer formulation!

An Oxford comma is easy to miss so something that is genuinely ambiguous may still require a double-take even if it has one. If you need to use a screen reader it can be even more confusing.

As for infinitives & prepositions then when I'm writing a CV, product brief or grant proposal you're damn right I avoid split & trailing ones respectively. I've been on both ends of the processes in question and believe me, weeding out the submissions with poor grammar is usually done early on. If you can't be arsed to get that right I have to question your commitment.


Can't we just go back to OSF/Motif on greyscale monitors and be done with all this?


Really addressing the big problems there.

Well, that gave me a chuckle, Bob. Ta.

I always fall back on the classics in these circumstances.


Re: Stupid millennials

I use it, and frequently so. I like. Have an up-vote.

What sad fate of the Oxford comma? As an editor of scientific papers, I use it every day. It has the potential to remove ambiguity and never creates it. No brainer. Most journals I work with even require it.

It's a poorly written sentence that relies on an Oxford comma to disambiguate between meanings that are both plausible in context.

Now, donning my asbestos writing gloves, where do we stand on the possessive apostrophe? Would pedants like us be happier if it were abolished so we wouldn't have to rail against greengrocers' signs?

Discuss ...

Serial killer spotted on the night train from Newcastle



When you were calling several BBS's (sequentially until an answer)

Let's play ... Global Thermonuclear War.

Watch out, everyone, here come the Coronavirus Cops, enjoying their little slice of power way too much


Re: petty power

I'll get my arseless chaps

I'll have to check my old VHS tapes of The Virginian but aren't all chaps arseless? (The chaps in the British & US governments who are nothing but arses notwithstanding.)

If you're writing code in Python, JavaScript, Java and PHP, relax. The hot trendy languages are still miles behind, this survey says


Re: Gotards

Thanks. Glad I'm not alone.

I'm also sick of UML - seems mostly to be a tool for selling expensive graphics packages and training courses.


Re: JavaScript isn't just client side anymore

Upvote because in a former life I used to consult on web app development and I found LAMP (or preferably LAPP) way better than, say, ASP/SQL-Server/IIS.

But I've come to the conclusion that for net server stuff Python is much better. The syntax especially variable notation in PHP feels very clunky these days. Too reminiscent of trying to write production code in bash or Perl.

I've not tried but Javascript, Ruby etc are probably nice too - anything with sensible syntax and low amounts of punctuation.

I'm very jaundiced about a lot of the frameworks for JS/TS though - a gazillion lines of boilerplate code just to do the web equivalent of "hello, world" seems a bit OTT.

But then I come from a 1980s and/or embedded viewpoint - when you care about the RAM & bandwidth you get a bit antsy.


I can send you a 16mm cine film of the galvanometer readings if you send me a self-addressed jiffy bag.


Re: JavaScript isn't just client side anymore

Java client-side is a dead end security nightmare.

Java server-side always ends up being some sort of oh my god I need ten times the compute resources crazy town.

Java should be taken outside the back of the shed and put down.

Or if a place is infested, nuke from orbit.


I wonder what purpose they really serve other than keeping academics and training companies in business.

As the kids almost certainly don't say, "Preach!" *high five*

I struggle to understand the point of Haskell, Typescript or type hint notation in Python.

The whole point is loose typing - it's up to the callee to decide what to do with the arguments.


What's all this digital nonsense?

I can wire you up something to solve your problem using a few op-amps and passives - and it'll draw a fraction of the power.



Where the hell are Malbolge & Brainfuck?

Vodafone: Yes, we slurp data on customers' network setups, but we do it for their own good


If you haven't built it yourself, don't trust it.

My ISP's router is on the same network as exactly one device - my border NAT firewall. Inside that our phones & Chromecast-type stuff are on a DMZ network separate from my compute gear.

Unfortunately, Joe Q P hasn't been given the understanding as to why this is prudent in the same way as he doesn't understand why posting his child's entire upbringing on Facebook is A Bad Idea™.

I'd still like to see the ISP's execs nailed to the the wall but it's never going to happen in the current political climate.

Quantum compute boffins called up to get national UK centre organised for some NISQy business


Re: Kinda superb, but.....

Ta for the info.

Must be a timing thing with the web/app thing then.

Or my subconscious bias.

Right with you on the dumbing down. Glad we still get the shipping forecast on R4 in the morning - it gives a much better idea of what's in store.


Re: Kinda superb, but.....

what MPs spend their expenses on

Generally a young intern and a pied-à-terre in which to discuss Ugandan Affairs.


Re: Kinda superb, but.....

Agree with AC about the Met Office being pretty good.

But the BBC now source their forecasts elsewhere I believe, the Met Office having lost to a more competitive bid, and their web site & app seem to be more accurate than the Met Office's.

What's with that?

In any case, my grandma had a perfect record regarding meteorological prognostication. "It'll either rain or go dark before morning."


Re: Kinda superb, but.....

£93 million for QC research ...

... £100 million per year for British MPs' expenses.

Just MPs' expenses - total running costs of the Houses Of Parliament including MPs' remuneration & expenses for the scum, sorry, cream of society who occasionally deign to appear in the other place is in the 10-to-the-ninth order of magnitude.

Also, we're about to spend £10 billion refurbishing the Palace of Westminster, estimated. (*hollow laugh* HS2, Holyrood, etc, etc.)

If we knocked it down and built a new one that's more fit for purpose I'm sure it could be done for a couple of billion - less if they built it in Birmingham or Manchester which would massively reduce the average commute for MPs & peers, and hopefully their expenses claims.

I seem to remember that the initial demolition was attempted free of charge once.

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now: Brexit tea towel says it'll just be the gigabit broadband


Re: Drying

High speed air blade type dryer about 30 to 40 seconds and no need to rub your hands together.

You must be using the AirBlade Mk10000 then.

No blade-style dryer whether by Dyson, Mitsubishi or anyone else I've ever tried to use dries my hands effectively before I've given up in frustration.

As discussed elsewhere here, the ones that are even halfway effective are unbelievably loud.

Because you can't rub your hands together you can't tell when/whether they are dry.

Rubbing one hand over the other when using a conventional hand dryer spreads the remaining water out and therefore increases the area over which evaporation is occurring, speeding up the process no end.

I've said it before and I'll say it again - James Dyson patented a quite good way of designing a vacuum cleaner back in the day by using an already well-known way of separating solids from fluids by centrifugal/centripetal forces. Everything since is sheer bull and ludicrously overpriced. (Two hundred & fifty quid for a desk fan? With Bluetooth? Digital motor? Quatsch!)

The people who buy consumer Dyson products buy them for the same reason they buy iPhone, Lacoste & Burberry - for the name.

Dyson commercial products are chosen for the same reason - to try to make the visitors to the site think that the company is affluent and "cutting edge".

The consumer stuff isn't even very well made - I've got acquaintances who've been through four of five Dyson vacuums over the period I've owned one Samsung that cost less than a hundred pounds and still works perfectly. Some of them even keep buying Dyson while bitching about how flimsy they are.

Go figure.


SLS goes vertical at Stennis while NASA practises SRB stacking


old Scifi flicks with rockets landing fins down (cf Forbidden Planet for eg)

Are you comparing as a counter-example or straight up? United Planets Cruiser C-57D in Forbidden Planet is a flying saucer. When landing it has some sort of energy field. No fins that I can see.

The only other ship mentioned is the Bellerophon but we don't get to see that, since it blew up twenty years before.


Anyone know why, in this day and age, you're quoting thrust values in pounds?

Oh yes, to quote AFF, "Americans can't handle the metric system."

Pound isn't even a unit of force - it's a unit of mass. (And it's different in different systems just to add to the confusion.) The unit you need is lbf - which is the force experienced by an avoirdupois pound of mass under the influence of an arbitrariliy chosen strength gravitational field.

Get with it guys. Almost the whole of the rest of the world uses SI units for science & engineering. They are unambiguous and make the arithmetic much easier, you know?

Jeez - even the Brits have mostly switched to sensible units. (Although if you're asking, I'd rather have a pint than half a litre of beer, thanks.) ;-)

Things I learned from Y2K (pt 87): How to swap a mainframe for Microsoft Access


He-he. And I thought I was old.

Thanks gramps.


Access? Pah!

Anyone else remember coding dBase III?

Artful prankster creates Google Maps traffic jams by walking a cartful of old phones around Berlin


Re: Ingenious

Stephen Fry saying "Handy" in a German accent is fantastic TV.

Was quite funny, yes.

In the same vein, I remember an episode of Friends where Lisa Kudrow takes the piss out of an American acquaintance back from a stay in England insisting on calling her cellphone a "mobile". (Along with using "bugger" & "arse".)

(Demonstrating my age there, along with the fact that I don't get to choose the TV channel!)


Re: Ingenious

neunundneunzig alte telefone

Erm ... "neunundneunzig alte Handys" please.

It's a bit of a cheesy loan word but it's pretty ubiquitous.

Brave, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla gather together to talk web privacy... and why we all shouldn't get too much of it


Re: bah

If I could up-vote more I would.

This episode of Black Mirror sucks: London cops boast that facial-recog creepycams will be on the streets this year


can someone clarify the law. is it a crime in the UK to take a (camera phone, for eg) pic of a policeman in a public place?

IANAL but as far as I am aware It is not a criminal offence to take a picture of anyone or anything if you're doing so from a public place. (With caveats about creepy stuff through bedroom windows etc.)

However I wouldn't recommend it as the police in the UK routinely arrest people and/or steal or vandalise their cameras for perfectly legal photography of policemen or what they deem to be sensitive sites.

Some determined victims occasionally manage to get a successful prosecution but it usually just results in an empty demand from the judge for the force to train its staff better and maybe a fine or a tiny bit of compensation - which is payed using our money of course - but individual officers almost never get even a reprimand, let alone dismissal or personal prosecution for theft, damage or unlawful imprisonment.

(I'm sure most coppers are reasonable people but it sometimes seems that they are more likely to be subject to dismissal or prosecution for ratting out their colleagues' illegal behaviour or for refusing to break the law when ordered to by their superiors than for actual misbehaviour.)

Black Helicopters


Fills me with confidence that the ICO uses technically correct but strained cobblers like "in forthcoming days" to mean "soon".

The ICO seems to be going the way of the FCC, ICANN, OffCom etc. - in the pockets of those it's supposed to be policing.

Join us on our new journey, says Wunderlist – as it vanishes down the Microsoft plughole


Re: It’s becoming more difficult to maintain as it ... ages

Another one that particularly annoys me is Picasa.

That was such a good product - the geo-tagging and face recognition interfaces were really easy to use even for non-techies.

But because it could work entirely stand-alone Google axed it in favour of its crappy online ("let us look at all your personal photos") service.

By the way, SWMBO keeps badgering me for something that works just as well on Windows 10 (and preferably online too but that's not crucial).

Any suggestions, folks?


Re: It’s becoming more difficult to maintain as it ... ages

I seem to be reading a lot these articles about Microsoft and Apple buying up relatively successful software products and then eviscerating them.

Remember when Visio was intuitive to use? That would be just before Microsoft started faffing with it.

Beer necessities: US chap registers bevvy as emotional support animal so he can booze on public transport


Re: No beer on the train?

In Germany, you generally aren't allowed to drink beer on city S- and U-Bahn trains but it's fine on the IC/ICE inter-city services. ICEs often have a proper bar selling decent bottled beers like Veltins to drink there or take back to your seat if you've neglected to bring your own.

However they've started banning alcohol consumption on the cross-country RegioBahn services in some Bundesländer which are unfortunately the ones I use most. (ICEs are lovely but they cost way more than the red ones and I'm a bit of a skinflint.) Schade, as they say. :-(


Re: Came that reptile!

my Burmese python, and we adored one another

I like snakes too but I suspect it was merely humouring you in the hope that one day it'd get big enough to get you down in one. ;-)

I don't adore my Ringwood Fortyniner but I'm very fond of it, to get back on topic.



he needs to claim that being drunk is a form of religious worship

I like that idea - have an up-vote.

I still support the idea of being a beerafari. Pastafaris are so yesterday.

The correct term is Pastafarian, plural Pastafarians please. (Pastafari is an adjectival form.)

And remember beer is integral to CFSM - the incontrovertable word of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (He Boiled For Our Sins™) tells us that heaven has the Beer Fountain.

May you be touched by His Noodly Appendage.

Clunk, whirr, buzz, whine. Shared office space can be a riot and sounds like one too


Re: Computer says "If you must"

See icon!


Plenty of post-grad techies/engineers with aroma issues.

Not just the ones who live alone or with their mum's either. (I can only conclude that their partners are anosmic, they are dynamite in bed despite the miasma or they are on a much higher pay grade than me.)


Re: Companies in France

Apparently RR did not check the German reaction to Silver Mist

I was told by my GCE German teacher that they spotted it just in time and released the model in question Silver Ghost instead.

Hearsay though so I could be wrong.

This is also a system for GPs, right? UK doctors seek clarity over Health dept's £40m single sign-on funding


most GPs are not NHS staff; the vast majority of GPs are independent contractors not directly employed by the NHS

This really annoys me. Somehow the family doctor service in the UK has been re-privatized.

My local GP surgery (or "medical centre" as they prefer to call it) seems to be owned by about half a dozen partner doctors who have their names "over the door" as it were.

However whenever I do manage to get an appointment (similar experience to others' comments) I never get to see one of them but instead get a very young looking doctor that I've never seen before and never see again.

When I complained about this as being contrary to the accepted concept of "continuity of care" the excuse I finally got back is that it's a "teaching practice" although their web site makes no mention of this that I can find.

What I think is really happening is that the partners hire fresh off the boat/from medical school doctors that they can pay bottom-end salaries. As soon as said doctor has gained enough experience for a pay rise to be in order, they let them go and hire a new one.

In the meantime this allows the partners to take on private patients and rake in the taxpayers money the practice gets for having NHS patients on the books.

This is a disgrace in the UK, which is supposed to have a fair and publicly run health system paid for out of general taxation & national insurance contributions.

And don't even get me started on UK dentists ...

take up valuable clinician time – time that should be spent treating patients

Or, for the partners, on the golf course in Florida.

LibreOffice 6.4 nearly done as open-source office software project prepares for 10th anniversary


Re: This will be year of TeX

What's wrong with nroff?

JavaScript survey: Devs love a bit of React, but Angular and Cordova declining. And you're not alone... a chunk of pros also feel JS is 'overly complex'


Re: JavaScript is "overly complex".

Let's all do server-side database queries by concatenating GET & POST responses onto SELECT strings and client-side JSON parsing by executing it as JS. What could possibly go wrong?

Never trust anything that's come to you over a comms channel any part of which is not under your control. That applies to clients receiving server data and vice versa. Sandbox everything.


Re: JavaScript is "overly complex".

I'm also careful to also only use JS when something's not possible with native HTML or server-side code.

I upvoted this because I largely agree, the gratuitous use of JS to do things that HTML and CSS are perfectly capable of doing alone annoys the hell out of me, for example.

But there're some things that can't be done server-side such as rapid interactivity. Google Maps would be very clunky without client side code, for example.

There's also the advantage of doing things client side in that it's more scalable. The server-side CPU and bandwidth resources required to serve up a set of static JS scripts, media assets, CSS & HTML files and a few WebSockets are way lower than trying to do everything at the head end for every client device.

Why can't passport biometrics see through my cunning disguise?


Re: Security passcodes

I've certainly stayed in a hotel where tapping the room card just took the lift to the relevant floor, right pain when there were 8 people all wanting different floors.

The implication being that you can't choose to get off on any floor other than your own.

What a ridiculous idea. What if you're in a group, have rooms on different floors but want to meet up for a nightcap?

Or in a residential block, what if you want to visit your neighbour on a different floor?

And what a lovely ambience - that genuine Super Max experience!

Bet you can't guess what I'm wearing, or where I'm wearing it


ultra-right-wing snowflakes whose fragile masculinity is threatened by 15-year-old schoolgirls

Thanks again for tea through nostrils, Mr. Dabbs.

The downside is that we're still paying these twats (or dicks if you prefer male organ based perjoratives) far too much salary and far, far too much for expenses.

Chemists bitten by Python scripts: How different OSes produced different results during test number-crunching


Re: Not sure the comparison is valid

It would make sense for glob.glob() and os.listdir() to return sorted lists

It would make more sense if people read the documentation. See here where it's quite explicit that "results are returned in arbitrary order" and here again, "The list is in arbitrary order."

If your code requires your list of files to be sorted, then sort them - all it takes is sorted(glob.glob(x)) instead of glob.glob(x). If my piece of code does not require it, why should it have to suffer the overhead of sorting? Remember, Python glob can generate arbitrarily large lists of directory entries.

Her Majesty opens UK Parliament with fantastic tales of gigabit-capable broadband for everyone



Amending the Building Act 1984 so that Building Regulations require all new build developments to have the infrastructure to support gigabit-capable connections.

Meanwhile they drag their feet on amending the regulations to require sustainable building materials & methods, proper insulation and provision for thermal & photovoltaic roof panels and sub-surface heat exchangers that would make the new owners' domestic fuel bills and carbon footprint virtually non-existent.

Not to mention all the new office blocks going up still awash with bog standard glass everywhere and collosal air-con & heating energy costs as a result.

Why the fusk do I need gigabit per sec Internet in a domestic property anyway? A fifty meg connection can support at least six hi-def video streams with ease when all the family members are hiding from one another in their respective fortresses of solitude.

Multitasking is a myth: It means doing lots of things equally badly


UK Supreme Court unprorogues Parliament


Ignorantia juris non excusat

being wrong isn't a crime (usually)

Under most legal systems, you can be prosecuted for breaking a law of which you were unaware.

The judges have said that his actions were unlawful.

Just what we all needed, lactose-free 'beer' from northern hipsters – it's the Vegan Sorbet Sour


Re: Rhubarb Wine

and tasted not unlike meths

You should really lay of the meths.


Re: we rely upon readers to tell us what colour it turns your, er, you know.

There is so much fail in that post that I can hardly think about where to start

Dead on. Glad you posted to save me having to.

One additional point. Fructose (and sucrose - table sugar) can be metabolized and can have the same negative effects as glucose on the body but our pancreases don't react to it in the same way as glucose. To see why this is a problem, read the article on WebMD.

Eating fruit is good for you in moderation because the levels of sugar are low compared to those in processed food and fruit has lots of other benefits. But just because fructose has Latin for fruit in it doesn't make it healthier than sucrose or glycose.


Re: You're thinking..

I'd still rather drink German lager than British.

The Reinheitsgebot has been blamed for stiffling variety but these days getting an exception for a (God help us) "craft" beer is fairly straightforward.

It does mean you know what you're getting though, rather than the "under license" swill that comes out of Dorchester or wherever.

In winter in the UK I do prefer a decent bitter though.



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