* Posts by My-Handle

826 publicly visible posts • joined 20 May 2011


Menacing marketeers fined by ICO for 1.9M cold calls

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Re: Spam calls

Clearly they're going hard-ass on me then - they usually start by telling me that a warrant has been issued for my arrest by HMRC.

Despite the fact that HMRC usually writes to you, not call you. When it does call, it doesn't do it from an unknown mobile number. They don't use a robot to talk to you. And they can't (directly) issue warrants for your arrest. Still stressful to hear a call like that.

I usually twig that it's a robot call by the two or three second silence at the start, so I'm usually already on the way to hanging up by the time the robot gets two words in.

Russian allegedly smuggled US weapons electronics to Moscow

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Re: Why bother?

Absolutely. We'll not talk about the pinnacle of 80's Soviet naval hardware, the Admiral Kuznetsov, that has been out of service and in dry dock for several years. Until the dry-dock sank. You know, the ship that had to be followed by a tug because it broke down so often. We'll also not mention the Moskva, the flagship and pride of the Russian Black Sea fleet. The one that sank either due to a Ukranian missile strike (which the ship should have been able to defend against, but didn't) or an internal fire (which frankly sounds more humiliating) depending on whose narrative you believe.

You're completely right, Russian tech is obviously superior. I can't imagine why this man would have risked criminal charges by importing millions of dollars worth of the stuff that Russia clearly doesn't need.


Mention AI in earnings calls ... and watch that share price leap

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Re: BT for example?

When they said they would get rid of something like 1/5 of the workforce and replace them with AI? What actual planet are they living on if they think that's actually going to happen?

I mean, they got rid of most of their customer service department ages ago and replaced them with a circular-referencing combination of a "smart" (i.e. "not smart") phone system, website FAQs and a chatbot, none of which are capable of solving any real-world problem that you're likely to have. I don't think stirring AI into that mix will make it much worse, apart from making it that much harder to talk to an actual person (who might or might not be empowered enough to do anything about your problem anyway).

Unity closes offices, cancels town hall after threat in wake of runtime fee restructure

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It could be, but even if true it has still generated a huge amount of mistrust and negative attention. Even if they walk back on it now (and I hope they do), there are going to be a huge number of developers who'll avoid them like the plague in the future, just in case they pull the stunt again and this time mean it. Any developer currently in the early stages of developing a game with Unity is going to be downing tools and looking at alternatives.

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Re: Own goal after own goal

I spent a bit of time on the Ars Technica forum on this subject yesterday. A few posters there called this before it was known that it was an employee who made the threat.

What's even more dumb is that the town hall meeting was largely going to be online (I mean, not like they can move all 8000 of their worldwide staff to their SF office). Even if they did have to close those two offices (which were about 1k miles apart) because of a post an employee made (who lives in a different state, btw), why do you need to cancel an online meeting? It only makes sense if they're trying to dodge the PR fallout.

I also heard that a lot of Unity's own staff weren't informed about the change until it was publically announced, and a lot of them were highly annoyed about it. That sounds like another heavy incentive to use any excuse to hand to cancel that meeting.

Dutch consumer groups sue Google over its entire business model

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Re: They can track me if they want

Admirable sentiment, and one I also try to implement as best I can.

But one's rights to privacy shouldn't be dependant on having the expert knowledge and skills to defend it.

PEBCAK problem transformed young techie into grizzled cynical sysadmin

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Re: Enter Password

It gets old after the fifth or sixth time. With the same error message.

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Re: Enter Password

I had a similar one once. A user in the next office over came in and said that she had a strange error on her machine and could I take a look at it. I figured it was only in the next office and would be easier all-round if I just went to take a look.

I can't remember what the exact "error" message was. It wasn't quite as bad as "Do you want to save your changes? YES / NO", but not by much. I took great care in not letting my expression change, then asked the woman the exact question that the dialogue box asked. She said Yes. "Then click Yes." I replied. I nodded, walked out, and facepalmed as soon as I was back at my desk.

For all that her job involved constantly working with a PC, she was terrified of doing anything with it for fear of breaking something.

BOFH: What a beautiful tinfoil hat, Boss!

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Re: I knew my keyboard was doomed

One department I once worked for had 4 different managers within a 2 year period. Me and a colleague used to joke that it was like the "Defense Against The Dark Arts" teacher position.

The first ran afoul of office politics (a newly installed nitwit above him decided to throw his weight around and fire somebody to show his authority - said nitwit didn't last much longer himself). The second lasted about nine months before the pressure did her in and she left of her own accord (in all fairness to her, she never really wanted nor was qualified for the role - she was pushed into it and tried to make the best of it). The third guy also lasted about nine months before running headlong into a mix of the two above scenarios (office politics plus pressure).

The fourth was the biggest nitwit of the lot - didn't know a single thing about technology. She was a really nice person despite this, and I learned rather a lot about how to handle a daft manager (mostly by presenting her with whatever decision I wanted her to reach, and by providing her with the tools and information she needed to keep other people off my back). She either didn't realise or didn't care - I made sure I made the both of us look good, and she made sure I was able to.

My-Handle Silver badge

Only way to reason with people like that is to swap out the original router with a new "EM-Shielded" unit (actually just a box with flashing LEDs in it). Either he'll believe you and leave the blinkenbox running, or he won't and he'll turn it off. Either way, it won't affect the original unit that you tactfully installed somewhere else out of sight, but the fact that the nearest apparent box to him is safe will reassure him.

Twitter says it may harvest biometric, employment data from its addicts

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Re: Ex-directory

My initial knee-jerk reaction to that line was "lol, it's really not".

A brief Google search session seems to bear that out. Depending on what source you look at, Twitter has something like 350 to 450 million monthly active users. Assuming they are all genuine (stop giggling in the back there), that's somewhere between 1/18th and 1/23rd of the global population (approx 8 billion) - hardly an address book.

Even compared to other social media users, it doesn't stack up. Facebook apparently (by the likewise medium of a quick Google search) has about 3 billion monthly active users - 3 eighths of the world population (again, assuming all are genuine).

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Re: Cringe-worthiness

It's worse than the pot calling the kettle black - Musk's the sodding coal in this situation.

Zoom CEO reportedly tells staff: Workers can't build trust or collaborate... on Zoom

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Re: Context is everything

As a website developer, I worked within earshot of the customer services supervisor. A couple of times I overheard her either fielding several unusual calls in quick succession, indicating a recurring problem, or even just one customer with a very unusual problem that I realised was rooted in the website's code base. In such situations I could give her a subtle heads-up over IM and get to work on the problem sharpish. In the absence of that rather organic, unofficial channel of information, she'd not have realised that there was a consistent problem for much longer. She'd then have had to raise it through the ticket system or emailed someone, which would have taken longer.

That particular employer relied rather heavily on these kinds of interactions. The main method of moving information around the office was on the grapevine, rather through official channels or processes. I hope that's a problem they've managed to get a handle on by now.

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Re: Context is everything

Mention of VBA these days gives me a simultaniuous hit of nostalgia and a faint sense of dread.

It was actually how I first got into IT, because of exactly the situation you mentioned in our company. IT / those higher up wouldn't grant the right tools to those who needed them, so I ended up using VBA to automate a whole bunch of processes for a team that was badly overworked and under-resourced. Worked my way up from there.

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Re: Just... Wow

"...spread by people who are incapable of developing relationships without a physical presence"

I know that you intended this as an insult, but the sad fact is that such people exist. I find it exceptionally difficult to develop any kind of substantial relationship with a person without meeting physically.

"...but just because **YOU** can't do something does not mean that it's not possible"

And just because you can do something doesn't mean that everyone else should have to.

My opinion on this matter (detailed in previous posts) is that I personally prefer hybrid working. Ideally people should have the option to choose what works for them and for the job. I think this technology is a useful tool, but it isn't a fix-all. As with a lot of things in life, this is a situation with a lot of nuance to it and sweeping dictats or declarations from either side don't really help things.

Musk's latest X-periments: No more headlines, old posts vanish, block gets banned

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Re: Accessibility?

I also wouldn't count out the fact that too many people were blocking Elon himself. While it sounds like the Mute tool could be used to do the same thing, I'd bet my lunch that X / Twitter will conveniently 'forget' which users blocked Elon.

80% of execs regret calling employees back to the office

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Re: unpopular opinion: no, WFH and WFO are not the same.

Yep, it's a very good habit to get into. I'm just not very good at it :). I found it easier to go for a wander around the office.

I agree, different solutions work for different people and blanket policy is not the way to deal with something like this.

My-Handle Silver badge

Re: unpopular opinion: no, WFH and WFO are not the same.

In my previous WFO job, I worked with a junior developer. Occasionally, I would notice that he was frowning at his screen a lot, or I would pick up on some other frustrated behaviour. I'd ask what was up, he'd tell me, and either I could suggest something to fix the problem then and there or we'd spend some time working through the issue together. These situations often arise organically. There was no way in hell he'd have kicked off a video call with me - he'd have felt like he'd failed to deal with the problem (I wouldn't have thought that about him, but at the same time I feel the same with the roles reversed in my current job). Video conferencing is a powerful tool, but it doesn't completely make up for all such interactions.

Re your second point, not everyone has the space available to do what you suggest. I had an office before my WFH job that I mostly used for gaming and occasionally for personal software development projects. A big issue I have while WFH is trying to stay focussed on work (to the point where I often turn my personal PC off), mostly because this space isn't a "work" space in my mind. But I don't have any other space to hand that I can use, nor can I justify getting a second desk, chair and similar equipment if I did have the space. I live out in rural NI, so no coffee shops or small office spaces available - and if I'm travelling to go do work in a coffee shop with people being noisy around me, I might as well be in an office.

My-Handle Silver badge

Re: unpopular opinion: no, WFH and WFO are not the same.

I believe you may have missed the point.

The point wasn't "I'm lonely and benefit from the meagre social interaction I get from work".

The point was it's hard to feel motivated about a job if you don't feel like you're part of a team. Knowing your team members is part of it. Knowing what goes on around you in a company also helps you get a sense of where you fit in - it gives you a sense of the big picture.

This is what I meant when I said WFH can be isolating. If you're not the kind of person to actively seek out communication (and I'm not), you can end up with no real sense of your purpose or value in your job. That can be crippling.

My-Handle Silver badge

Re: unpopular opinion: no, WFH and WFO are not the same.

I'm currently in a fully-WFH job, having come from a fully WFO job. Personally, I find WFH extremely isolating. A phone / video call just isn't the same as talking with people in person, and calls like that only tend to occur for specific reasons. You do lose out on those more general conversations.

In my previous company, I could name about 60% of the employees who worked in the company. I knew who was who, who to speak with to get a particular job done, what my colleague's interests were... I couldn't tell you much of that about the people I currently work with.

I think this is a personal taste thing. Different styles of work fit some people better than others. My ideal is hybrid, I think, maybe 2 days a week in the office.

Bad software destroyed my doctor's memory

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One of my best software development projects was also one of my earliest. Despite the fact that I was still green, I had the massive advantage that I was developing this tool while sitting with the team who would be (and latterly was) using it. It was originally designed to solve a couple of problems they had with their workflow, and any issues or complaints they had they could tell me directly. I could also observe them using it passively, over the course of the working day. I could see what worked, what didn't, what made sense to me but wasn't intuitive for them, and what else might be added to further streamline things.

That project taught me an awful lot about UI.

Cage match: Zuck finally realizes Elon is full of twit

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Re: Sucker punch

I'd pay to see that.

Just so I could see the sequel where Zuckerberg (or his security) beat the crap out of Musk in "self defence", then get him arrested for assault.

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I trained in Jiu Jitsu while I was at uni (about fifteen years ago). Two black-belt senseis ran the class, one of whom was on the lower end of five feet tall. Funnily enough, when demonstrating new techniques, he usually picked the taller, beefier students to practice on. He was kinda known for making that point - that just because you were bigger didn't mean you were better.

Aside from the obvious small-man syndrome, he was a pretty decent guy. But you couldn't pay me money to take him on if he was serious.

Scientists strangely unable to follow recipe for holy grail room-temp superconductor

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I'm pretty sure it's a ChatGPT bot, or something similar. It does a spectacularly good job of talking around a topic, throwing in some vaguely relevant buzzword terms, while also completely failing to address the point or make much coherent sense.

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If you are genuinely done and have accurately tested this, I advise writing a paper on it and submitting it to a handful of science journals for proper peer review. The article even mentions one or two of these journals.

Remember, show your working. Every step of how you produced your wonder material, including your raw material sources, equipment used and where you sourced your equipment. Explain in great detail each and every test you performed on your material to prove it's superconductivity, including each and every measurement. Include the data from that $5 billion of super-computer time (though you may want to include that as an appendix). The idea is that other properly equipped scientists should be able to replicate your material and experiment without question.

If you've already done everything you claim to, that Nobel Prize is as good as yours. I look forward to seeing the name StargateSg7 in the news as the person who heralded in a new age for humanity.

Because I don't have an Electron Beam sintering machine in my pocket to test this and as such am unable to conclusively prove whether you're a genuine scientist excited about his latest world-changing discovery posting about it on his favourite IT forum or a troll trying to improve his own self image by saying "I've already done this, it was obvious, now you do it".

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"Try the formula" he says, as if it's some kind of magic wand.

The formula of a compound just by itself only measures the relative quantities of the given elements molecularly bound together. It tells you almost nothing about how they're bound. A large part of the argument going on about LK99 right now is around the exact crystalline structure of the material, how those crystals are aligned, which lead atoms in the structure have been replaced by copper etc. and how to achieve the desired structure reliably.

I'll tactfully ignore the fact that you say Ytrtium [sic] Copper Oxide but the two formulae you present are not only lacking in both Yttrium and Copper, but aren't even all that similar to each other. Mostly because I think it's worthwhile discussing what a formula represents in material science and what it does not.

Amazon's latest directive: Report to the office 'cos we're watching you

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Re: ???

It means they get to sweep the stairs and fiddly corners that the Roomba can't get to.

We'd pay good money to see... oh dear, Elon Musk 'needs an MRI scan'

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Re: Missing option...

Also, the options "No" and "I hope so" can both be true.

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Re: Give me a Brawndo with my popcorn

In Idiocracy, for all that they put a stupid man in charge, he was at least self-aware enough to hire an intelligent man and listen to what he said. Self-awareness isn't exactly Elon's strong point.

Techie's quick cure for a curious conflict caused a huge headache

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Re: "Ever done a little thing that made a big mess"

Yep, I've done something like that before.

I reset a little wifi router on the office network back to factory settings, so that I could log in and reset the password that someone (cough) carelessly lost. I learned a few things from this small change. A) What a DHCP server was, B) most home routers have this enabled by default, and C) it's a bad thing when you suddenly have a second DHCP server on a network that doesn't talk to the first and hasn't been configured with the correct network information. I found all of this out when PCs on the network started dropping off randomly. The IT Director asked if anything new had been plugged into the network, and I remember the sinking feeling I had when I remembered the reset router...


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Re: Spoiler alert - game solution

The key problem that I have with adventure games isn't that you have to solve the problem presented to you. It's that you have to figure out what someone else thought the solution was. I'm usually a pretty good problem solver and can see the utility in an awful lot of stuff that's just lying around. The kind of puzzle where you have to hit the thing with the specific type of hammer that you have to get half the map away kinda chafes when you already have a heavy wrench in your pocket that would have done just as well. Or, failing that, the brick that's sitting right next to the thing on the game screen but that you're not allowed to pick up.

I'm much more of a fan of the physics-engine based puzzles that games like Portal (and, to some extent, Zelda TOTK) have. The kind where it's possible to arrive at a neat solution to a problem and wonder if that's how you were supposed to have done it (and then realise that it actually doesn't matter). The kind where a player posts a solution online and the developers say "Wow, we never thought of solving it that way".

Blue Origin tells staff to catch next rocket back to their desks

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Re: Here's a plan

"The most ridiculous part about these policies is when they don't care which of their many offices you're in."

I've literally had this. I used to work for a large company based in Reading. I handed in my notice when me and my SO decided to move to Northern Ireland. I got a lot of ums, ahs and are-you-sures, and about two weeks before I was due to finish the company offered to have my place of work moved to their Belfast office (about 2 hours commute from my new home town). I agreed, mostly because I didn't have a new job lined up at that point.

The ridiculous thing was that I was still working with my team in Reading, telecommuting from the Belfast office. No-one in the office knew what I did - I barely spoke to anyone. But the company didn't trust me to work from home, they had to see me sitting at my desk.

Right at the end, I actually tried working from home for a couple of days. Spoke to my manager in Reading a couple of times by video call, did my normal job. No-one even noticed I wasn't in the office.

Douglas Adams was right: Telephone sanitizers are terrible human beings

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Re: Agree but...

"Outside of the world of the techie an electrical socket is just that."

Except this one was labelled with a warning not to turn it off.

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Re: Agree but...

It was one of four sockets on that wall. Two were even empty, but probably not so conveniently placed.

On the opposite side of the space there was also an office, with plug sockets aplenty.

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Re: Agree but...

We once had something similar. A network repeater was placed in a boiler room in the corner of one building, connecting it to another building. It was plugged in to a socket with a label saying "DO NOT TURN OFF".

Boiler repair guy came in and unplugged it so he'd have somewhere to charge his screw driver. Half the site suddenly dropped off the network. The IT director shot out of his office and ripped the bodger a new one.

I'm not sure whether the guy thought "I didn't turn it off, so that's OK. I just changed plugs", or whether he didn't think at all.

We will find you and we will sue you, Twitter tells 4 mystery alleged data-scrapers

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Re: automated requests severely taxed X Corp's servers and impaired the user experience for millions

I'm getting ads written in Arabic (as far as I can tell). I have no idea what they're for. I likewise live in the UK.

Now Apple takes a bite out of encryption-bypassing 'spy clause' in UK internet law

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Re: Proof of the UKs diminishing political structure ...

Dealing with the "We believe E2EE can be safely backdoored whilst keeping users' privacy" comment for a moment... I once dealt with a head of marketing who trotted out a line like this at me. I replied that she could believe what she liked, it didn't make it true.

I agree with your last comment as well - this will be impossible to police. The thing with laws is that only law-abiding people follow them. Criminals, by definition, don't. Anyone likely to be dealing in prohibited material just won't use the back-doored apps or services, or will add their own layer of encryption over the top.

Mummy and Daddy Musk think Elon's cage fight against Zuck is a terrible idea

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The only way Putin would take on anyone was if he was guaranteed to win, and look good doing it. By any means necessary. Any challenger would be at a rather high risk of 'accidentally' ingesting some kind of sedative (at best), or being given a pep talk by the KGB for a few days in an underground bunker somewhere. You know, just to properly prepare them for the fight.

Singapore's sovereign wealth fund regrets investment in crypto-villain FTX

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Re: Eh?

Take a look through the guy's post history. Most of his stuff is like this - grabbing a point that is at best tangentially related to the subject matter and going off on a rant about it. The most interesting one in his recent history was him declaring that if people have to refill their car they waste too much time driving, they should bike or walk instead (which would naturally take longer by virtue of being slower), and that if anyone needs to travel more than 500km then something is wrong with them.

It's a laugh a minute.

NASA tweaks Voyager 2's power supply to avoid another sensor shutdown

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Re: Amazing

Upvote from me, as a man whose main experience is in e-com website development. Recently made the jump from that to your "Commercial Software" category, and boy was that a learning curve.

Child-devouring pothole will never hurt a BMW driver again

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Wasn't charging extra for warning lights Boeing's thing?

Parts of UK booted offline as Virgin Media suffers massive broadband outage

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Redundancy does help.

A contractor managed to sever the landline connection to our house with an excavator earlier today. Not really his fault - he'd asked me where the service cables were and I forgot to tell him about that one. First I noticed was the router under my desk started blinking like crazy. My work PC carried on ticking, as it was on the 4G network (better speed than the 2Mbps copper I get).

Scientists speak their brains: Please don’t call us boffins

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Re: I, for one, would be honored!

He means that The Register has used the word "boffin" as a term of endearment for scientists in it's reporting for quite a number of years now.

Edit: I found a link to some of The Register's jargon, dated 2001. I'm sure there are more terms they've used, but I got bored of looking :)


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Re: Hmmm

I think the split is probably more naturally polarised than you think.

While I was studying psychology at university, I was told about a study done in Israel where a group of children were brought up with no reference to their gender. Boys and girls were not influenced in what they wore, who they played with etc.

It was found that in the absence of this influence, boys and girls were actually more likely to choose gender-stereotypical roles than otherwise.

I can't find a link to this study, so treat the above as the anecdote that it is, but I have found this article https://bigthink.com/the-present/gender-equality-paradox/, which links it's sources.

The target here shouldn't be a near-even representation of men and women in a given role, and the lack of such a representation shouldn't necessarily reflect badly on an industry or discipline. What we should have is equal opportunity - if a man or woman wants to pursue a career in an industry that is more typically pursued by the other gender, they should be able to do that without bias. As you say, there are industries at present that have a strong cultural bias for / against a particular gender and that does need to change.

For whom the bell polls: Twitter voting is for Blue users only now

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How's your bowling arm?

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And on the plus side, if you're on a movie date with ol' Vlad, you might just manage to switch drinks with him completely by accident. That might go some way to fixing the current world situation.

Is Neuralink ready for human brain implants? Allegedly so

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Re: "I thought what I'd do was, I'd pretend I was one of those deaf-mutes."

I'm not laughing man.

Workers don't want these humanoid robots telling them to be happy

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Re: Not a good idea for people who have a very high tolerance before they snap

True, but it's fun to think about it on occasion

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Re: Not a good idea for people who have a very high tolerance before they snap

Ah, but then the brain starts working. Where undirected rage fails, directed rage often succeeds. And the challenge does provoke a certain malicious glee.

If thumping the thing didn't work, I'd pick it up, take it out to the car, then either run it over or stick it between the jack and the car and start cranking. Failing that, there's dunking it in water (which admittedly isn't very dramatic) or bringing in a blow torch.

I could even get out a screw-driver set, take it apart and remove the battery / power cord. Then I could just leave it there, forever off.

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Re: Not a good idea for people who have a very high tolerance before they snap

These things are almost ideal in their function as a target for cthartic rage. They're generally annoying and they have no feelings. If you haul off and deck one for one too many "It looks like you're writing a letter..." comments, the worst you have to look forward to is a bill and your boss pretending to be annoyed at you (while secretly being grateful that someone else decked the thing). Things get more complicated when you do that to a person.