* Posts by Kubla Cant

2793 posts • joined 28 Jun 2010

Good news for UK tech contractors as govt repeals IR35 tax rules

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New IR35 rules were introduced for businesses in April 2022...

Funny, I could swear I've been subject to IR35 since 2020.

Using the datacenter as a dining room destroyed the platters that matter

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"big old Winchester-style disk machines, the ones that looked like spin dryers and took platter disk packs, one active and one backup."

If it has disk packs, it's not a Winchester. I believe Winchester was the name for the first disks that ran in sealed containers.

Terminal downgrade saves the day after a client/server heist

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Back when VAX was a thing, someone smashed a window and broke into our machine room. The only thing they thought worth taking was a MicroVAX. Presumably they thought it was a PC. Good luck selling that in the pub.

Japan to change laws that require use of floppy disks

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guillemets to stand in for the greater-than or less-than characters

I've tried using guillemets, but they always fly away.

In a time before calculators, going the extra mile at work sometimes didn't add up

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No question that £sd was an inconvenient system and nearly impossible to automate.

But there's no doubt that having to spend a lot of time at primary school practising arithmetic in £sd and Imperial units was very good training. Perhaps it was time that could have been better spent on other aspects of maths (though to my limited knowledge the subjects included at O Level, as it then was, were more advanced than those in today's GCSE maths).

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Re: Of course, Britain went decimal shortly afterwards!

I believe barristers fees were quoted in guineas, with the clerk taking the shilling commission. I know nothing of the Bar, but as with auctioneers, I'd be surprised if it hasn't risen above 5%.

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Re: The d in £sd

There's a regiment of the mealy-mouthed, mostly on the BBC, who insist on calling the delimiter in a URL "stroke". This is apparently because they think "slash" is a rude word. I feel bound to point out that if they haven't heard anything ruder than "slash" on the BBC, they haven't been listening.

I thought that if they don't like "slash" they should call it a solidus, so it's a disappointment to lean that the gods of Unicode consider them distinct characters. That said, I'd be surprised to learn that even the most fastidious metal fonts differentiated them.

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Re: Bank Accounts

"You wonder how they remember to breathe" seems harsh.

"Reforming" the telephone number system implies that there was an old, bad system that was reformed to the new, good system that we shall use for ever more. Phone numbers have been subject to sporadic modification since the phone was invented. The largest change I can remember was the conversion to all-figure numbers, more like 50 years ago than 30. I suppose the 1992 change must have been the additional digits required because of the unforeseen size of the address space.

Who bothers to memorise numbers in the age of mobile phones? I can recall several numbers that I haven't used for 50 years, but I don't know my wife's mobile number.

Mouse hiding in cable tray cheesed off its bemused user

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Many years ago we installed a Sun server in a machine room that was otherwise entirely populated with VAXes. It came as an unpleasant surprise to find that the Sun machine would crash if you disconnected the serial console.

There's no place like GNOME: Project hits 25, going on 43

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These days, GNOME Shell itself is written in JavaScript

JavaScript has its strengths, but it's a difficult language to write safe, unambiguous code in. It also suffers the inevitable performance penalty of interpreted script, even when JIT compiled. The reason that's always given for the persistence of JavaScript in web apps is that it's installed on billions of browsers so using anything else will be swimming against the stream.

The idea that a project that installs its own runtime environment and can therefore use any language it wants, would choose JavaScript, has me gasping for breath.

Yeah, we'll just take that first network handshake. What could possibly go wrong?

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Re: The guiding principle

You'd have thought that a company the size of Google would have thought to strip formatting characters out of the data being formatted, but no.

A list of top 10 search keywords might terminate a comma if there are only 9 keywords. If no keywords, it might be all commas.

The thing that's really weird is sending a delimited list in a JSON response, when an array would be appropriate.

Enough with the notifications! Focus Assist will shut them u… 'But I'm too important!'

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Because I live near a road junction, I get to hear a lot of lorries warning people that they are turning left. What puzzles me is why the manufacturers decided to have the warnings voiced by Donald Duck.

Incidentally, I thought Dabbsy lived in France. If so, it's odd that his "neighborhood" is in America.

Lapping the computer room in record time until the inevitable happens

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Re: Green energy

Use the energy they generate to power the computers.

"It's the month-end invoice run - pedal faster!"

I paid for it, that makes it mine. Doesn’t it? No – and it never did

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Re: Physical media is still the best

There's a Thunderbird setting to leave downloaded messages on the server.

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Re: You know you're old when...

stale 12-hour old water

I've got bad news for you. That water was probably delivered to Earth by a comet millions of years ago. It was probably zooming around on the comet for a while before that. I don't think an extra eight hours by your bed will make it much staler.

We've got a photocopier and it can copy anything

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Re: Bank of England going to trade show

if the copies were good enough - they changed the bank notes to make it even harder

Up to a point....

The average improvement cycle for copiers, taken across all brands, is probably less than a year.

Bank of England notes get redesigned much less frequently.

Dev's code manages to topple Microsoft's mighty SharePoint

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Include an option to hide\show disabled features

And wait for the support calls complaining that lots of menu items have appeared/disappeared for no apparent reason.

FYI: BMW puts heated seats, other features behind paywall

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A pricing model similar to that used for IBM mainframes in days gone by.

This is the military – you can't just delete your history like you're 15

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"They don't like it up 'em" - but in this case it seems that "they" were the senior officers, and "'em" were the ladies in the videos.

BTW spent the rest of their tour doing hard labor - were they sent to America to do it?

Visual Studio adds ability to edit code in All-in-One Search

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Sounds rather like the default behaviour of IntelliJ's find in files. If so, it's pretty intuitive - anywhere we show you code, you can edit that code.

BOFH: HR's gold mine gambit – they get the gold and we get the shaft

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Re: ah, the HR other shoe scenario

We just wanted you to feel like you're part of the process

Especially galling when you have no interest in the process and think it's a complete waste of time.

openSUSE Leap 15.4: The best desktop on the RPM side of the Linux world

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Re: OpenSuse is a good distro, with a few bugs

SuSE looked like it could be a really great Linux bistro

That's a problem when you're looking for a distro.

It's fun to speculate on what a Linux bistro would be like. A menu offering thousands of dishes, many of them similar. If you don't like your food, you are welcome to set up in a corner of the kitchen and start cooking a variant menu. In the middle of the kitchen, a group of chefs are fighting over the right way to make stock.

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I wholly endorse your admiration for Tom Lehrer.

But it's worth pointing out that the quotation dates from 1953. According to the US Census Bureau "The median income of men with money incomes in 1953 was estimated at $3,200", so $3,000, while modest, is not as derisory as it now seems.

Whatever you do, don't show initiative if you value your job

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Backout procedure?

It's not rocket surgery. A simple plan on one sheet of paper would suffice, even when working with Windows XP.

1. This is how I propose to apply the change.

2. This is how I will verify if the result is as expected.

3. This is how I will back out the change if it didn't work as expected.

Note that the correct answer to 3 is not "Phone the software suppliers and wait for them to send us a reinstallation disk".

Failed gambler? How about an algorithm that predicts the future

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If I asked them what this algorithm might look like in its final form, they'd probably say: "Er… brown?"

Well, the eponymous Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi was from Iran.

Logitech Pop: Stylish, portable, but far from the best typing experience

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Just what I came to say. "salubrious" means "health-giving; healthy" (OED).

OpenVMS on x86-64 reaches production status with v9.2

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Re: I wonder how many people still remember how to use it?

I was working on Rdb systems when it was sold to Oracle. We all went to a presentation at the local Oracle office. There they cheerily told us that future support contracts were going to be very, very expensive, because that's the only way they could fund development. This may be a software fact of life, but only Oracle would boast about it.

Switch off the mic if it makes you feel better – it'll make no difference

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There's quite a bit of discussion of the problem on Apple-related fora. It seems likely that it's because the monitors are identical. Possibly the MacBook can tell the difference between two £4k Apple monitors, but it can't be bothered to distinguish between cheapo Samsung ones.

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Not just Windows. I have to WFH on a MacBook. It's a reasonable computer, but I can't understand why they're supposed to be a panacea for the technically challenged, as the O/S is like a cheese dream.

I use a USB webcam with its own mic, but the MacBook randomly decides to use its own mic even when its case is shut. It's worse with the camera: not only does it randomly choose one, but sometimes it shown nothing from either camera and has to be rebooted.

And then there's the screens. I have two monitors plus the so-called Retina Display (Why? Retinas are for seeing things, not displaying them - it's like calling the TV a camera). When the MacBook boots, or even when it wakes from sleep, it randomly jumbles the screen positions so I have to crank up System Preferences and drag them back into the right order.

But it's achingly cool, of course.

Clustered Pi Picos made to run original Transputer code

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Re: Transputer?

17, 33, 45 and 72 rpm records

Not 17, but 16⅔ - half 33⅓.

Despite living through the entire cycle, from 78 rpm onwards, I have never seen a 16⅔ rpm record.

It is possible there were portable valve radios

Indeed, my grandma owned one. ISTR it contained a huge Ever Ready battery that didn't last long and couldn't be recharged, so listening to it was probably an expensive activity.

Robots are creepy. Why trust AIs that are even creepier?

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Re: True AI

So you're saying Dabbsy is actually Marvin?

No. Marvin wouldn't use the USAian misspelling of 'axe'. He's been replaced by Clippy.

"hack it to pieces with an ax"

Buying a USB adapter: Pennies. Knowing where to stick it: Priceless

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Re: Lost dog pictures

I won a full 2 dozens of Duvel beer bottles

I think I'd prefer to get the beer.

Unable to write 'Amusing Weekly Column'. Abort, Retry, Fail?

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One for the traditionalists

Half of bosses out of touch with reality, study shows

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Re: I don't know about anyone else

Interesting that the malaise known as "presenteeism" doesn't go away when working from home.

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Re: And the other half will follow...

Yes you are and although no one company can erase that experience, if enough return to 2019 but you're not willing...

I'm perfectly willing to return to on-site working* as long as I'm paid extra for four hours commuting, subsistence, exposure to infections (not just you-know-what - I've been free from the annual colds and flu since I started WFH).

* not really, it's just a figure of speech

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Re: Employees hold all the cards, it’s too late…

True, but I don't see eating lots of sandwiches in order to boost my pension as a reliable retirement strategy.

Microsoft proposes type syntax for JavaScript

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Re: I'm in two minds here

I hate to go in to bat for Microsoft, but they did a lot of good with TypeScript and VSCode.

Deutsche Bank seeks options as sanctions threaten Russian dev unit

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My experience is that all Deutsche Bank devs work on Citrix virtual desktops, so even when checked out the code stays on the servers.

edit: ninjad by Steve Channell

Fujitsu claims world leadership in headache management

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Re: "Internal calculations found the total cost of headaches was $22.5 million a year"

Fujitsu aren't much good at financial calculations. Ask a sub-postmaster.

Saving a loved one from a document disaster

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Re: School SEN teacher Also 90s

Probably couldn't seek advice about how to save a document because everything she types is secret.

I can recall a support request from the HR in the next office.

"No problem, I'll be there in a minute."

"Oh, you can't look at it. It's confidential."

Proprietary neural tech you had surgically implanted? Parts shortage

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Just as I was reading this, Windows Defender popped up a notification with a sound. It's telling me that it didn't find any threats. Nice to know, but not something that needs a sound. And why tell me for the first time in the two years this Windows has been running?

Worst thing is being woken at 4am by a notification from a phone on the bedside table. It's always something you wouldn't want to know about at any time of day.

Long ago I recall Novell startup scripts that included the command


Never found out what this had to do with networking.

Ukraine asks ICANN to delete all Russian domains

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WW1 analogies are tough, though; neither side is clearly "the good guy" or "the bad guy", and when it boils down to it, the whole thing was essentially different branches of the ruling classes (in this case, cousins in the same royal family) fighting each other for control over the peasants.

I think you're confusing WW1 with the Hundred Years War. In 1914 Britain was a parliamentary democracy and France was a republic. Neither had much in the way of peasants.

IBM cannot kill this age-discrimination lawsuit linked to CEO

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Re: Semantic alert

Plaintiff’s mistruths do not change the facts.

WTF is a "mistruth"? (Don't answer, I can guess.)

Where do these mealy-mouthed neologisms come from? Cf "misspeak" = to lie.

Your app deleted all my files. And my wallpaper too!

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Re: Concepts are hard to understand

But the Brits won at Rorke's Drift. Isandlwana on the same day is where they got wiped out.

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Re: Concepts are hard to understand

the weird hierarchy of directories that Windows tries to impose on me

Names like "My Documents" that are actually $HOME\Documents. But if you want to see $HOME you have to navigate via My Computer\C:\Users\ or something. Something called "Libraries". Shortcuts that look like indirection but aren't really because they don't work that way for most applications. Symlinks that really are indirection, but you can't create them on the work machine because for some incomprehensible reason that requires admin rights.

I recently moved a friend's account on to a new machine. Both computers were running Windows 10. As a vital part of his work, he daily transfers lots of pictured from his phone and uses them on a web site. On the old computer, he connected the phone and the pictures were copied to his Pictures folder, where he could easily find them in a File->Open dialog. Now Windows decides to put them in something called "Photos", that looks like a directory but isn't visible to the dialog, so he's stuffed. I try to explain that he could find the pictures by searching drive C:, but there's a lot of data on there, and why should he?

A tale of two dishwashers: Buy one, buy it again, and again

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I've always been charmed by the idea that repeat-purchase ads might reflect the world-view of the marketing droid. Everyone is primarily categorised by the things they buy. Buy a dishwasher and you are enrolled in the set of people who buy dishwashers. And what do they want? More dishwashers. When do they want them? Now!

Life for these marketeers must be a constant stream of disappointment and disillusion. When a colleague buys a house, they keenly anticipate the purchase of more houses. When somebody flies in from Los Angeles for a meeting, they greet him with "Hello, nice to meet you. I see you like long flights. Would you like to fly to Tokyo now?"

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Re: Quoting Zeppelin to dissing Rappers!

He would like to stress that he does not dislike contemporary rap music for the usual fogeyish reasons.

Does the fact that it's turgid drivel produced by people who seem to have no musical or literary talent count as fogeyish or discriminating?

AI-created faces now look so real, humans can't spot the difference

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Re: Fascinating

Now all they need is an AI to produced decent plots and dialogue

Accounts suggest that the way film scripts are written is already a Generative Adversarial Network, except that the components are human. It should be a simple matter to replace them with computers.

Actually, how do we know they haven't already done so?

Users complain of missing data in UK wills search service

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Special characters

Where did the stupid term "special characters" come from? Special to whom?

Assuming that "special" means any character that isn't alphanumeric and isn't a control character, why does every bird-brain that implements this restriction have a different concept of this set?

Is any Unicode character legal, so I can have a password that's mostly emojis? I've never done this because I have enough password trouble to be going on with, but it's an amusing thought.

File suffixes: Who needs them? Well, this guy did

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Re: Competition time!

If MS were so bothered about that they could have changed it so the rename dialog/in-place edit thingy in the list doesn't allow the extension to be changed, unless e.g. you hold shift.

I think current Windows* pre-selects the part before the dot when you rename. If you want to change the type you have to deselect and reselect everything.

* I could be confusing this with Linux, MacOS....


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