* Posts by The answer is 42

63 publicly visible posts • joined 19 Aug 2011


Silicon Valley roundabout has drivers in a spin

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What roundabout?

Many decades ago (when we had PROPER winters) our family returned to the UK after many years living in West Germany. THe last (and only) proper winter was 1962/63. My father was driving from Portsmouth to somewhere in the Midlands in a white-out and the conversation went something like-

Son, which way round the last roundabout did I go?

Son- The right, as usual-

Father looks at son and says "we will have to watch out for those"

Yes, Dad...

The rise and fall of the standard user interface

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Re: This far down in the comments

If you think that was bad, have a look at Lotus Symphony. Word Processor, spreadsheet, database and PowerPoint all in one program, were all a spreadsheet with peculiar formatting. It worked by magic.

Users now keep cellphones for 40+ months and it's hurting the secondhand market

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Re: iPhone 7+ here

My phone gets replaced when my daughter gets a new one- she fixes it to accept my PAYG sim. I don’t have many apps open at the same time so the battery lasts all day. The battery is original, I am told. I am also on an iPhone 7.

It's been 230 years since British pirates robbed the US of the metric system

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Speed is everything

At least the speed of light is easy- about a nanosecond to the foot (I think).

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Re: Hooray for Avoirdupois and pounds, shillings and pence

65 is the aspect ratio- between the width and height.

Electric vehicles earn shocking report card for reliability

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What about the hard of hearing?

One more problem with EVs- they are too quiet. The hard of hearing don’t look before leaping, so all EVs must make a noise. Buyers choice- Formula 1 on the start line. Concorde on full reheat. Any nitro dragster. To keep the vehicle quiet, try the Lotus trick that listened to the sound and out-putted the same signal but inverted. I don’t think it got into any road cars.

Share your 2024 tech forecasts (wrong answers only) to win a terrible sweater

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Next year

Mr Trump will manage to make a sentence without telling a lie.

Microsoft will claim it invented CE ME NT.

No, working in IT does not mean you can fix anything with a soldering iron

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What about CRTs?

Once upon a time, my college lecturer gave me an old Cossor 1032 scope. A panel on the side gave access to all the plates and the top scale went up to 500 volts per divison. Lets build an engine analyser first, perhaps I could get an ignition display of some sort on the screen. I wasn't going to be caught out by an electric shock- line a wooden peg with a bit of aluminium foil then clip it over the plug lead then connect that to the scope , that should give enough insulation. it didn't... The scope survived.

There can be only one... Microsoft Excel Champion

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to avoid boredom, try to do all Excel functions in Access.

US EV drivers won't be able to choose vehicle safety alert sounds

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Re: So no selection at all?

The bell only rings when the seller is out of ice cream- dont burst my childrens bubble..

NOBODY PRINT! Selfless hero saves typing pool from carbon catastrophe

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You could copy?

What was the year and copier? My first job was translating a quarterly Russian journal into English. Like all languages, what is a word in one becomes a sentence in another,so there was a lot of cut/paste. Off it went to the translators, coming back with a load of instructions like "picture 3 should be on the top left of page 7". Text and pictures went on the first grill tray and the machine dropped black xerox dust on it (no, I thought it was magic as well). the tray, paper and dust on grill then carefully had to be taken out of the machine and put into the next copier slot. If that was done without any trembling hands, a zapper fused the dust onto the paper. There were many trembles, synchronised to the number of girls in the office and the number of open windows. That process had to be done for each sheet. I doubt if the pages had numbers. Back to my question- The year was probably 1965, but what was the copier/fuser?

Raspberry Pi Foundation moves into microcontrollers with the $4 Pi Pico using homegrown silicon

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Ah, but... will it run Crysis, or do I have to go back to mini- Doom?

Watt's next for batteries? It'll be more of the same, not longer life, because physics and chemistry are hard

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Re: Sodium Sulphur

I attended a Faraday lecture some decades ago on electric cars (when the only electric vehicle was a milk float) and the sodium/ sulphur battery was discussed. When 300 degrees was mentioned, the lecturer responded with the calculation of the potential energy in petrol, expressed as how many miles up the road a gallon of petrol would propel the average car. Silence from heckler.

Much like the British on holiday, NHS COVID-19 app refuses to work with phones using unsupported languages

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Still waiting..

I am still waiting for my government issue mobile phone. My android tablet and Apple phone are too old (a bit like me) to talk the talk so I expect to be given a suitable device.

Happy birthday, you lumbering MS-DOS-based mess: Windows 98 turns 20 today

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Re: W98 and USB support

I think it was NT that was due a service pack with USB support, but it was superceded by XP. True?

UK's first transatlantic F-35 delivery flight delayed by weather

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I can't help thinking ablout the autopilot at the end of "Airport". Problem almost solved.

Crappy IoT on the high seas: Holes punched in hull of maritime security

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Nothing new...

About 10 years ago the family were on a cruise on Costa Victoria. I "won" a prize of a tour of the off-limits areas. The engine room was running off a pc running XP with a memory stick plugged in. How bad can it get?

Admin needed server fast, skipped factory config … then bricked it

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A steady job

A relative worked at Fylingdales early warning system in the 70s. He had a steady job replacing American transformers, as our US friends tested by plugging in and switching on. Some amazing kit passed through his hands. I remember a record deck with a motorised threaded shaft which carried the arm and needle from right to left so there was no distortion. Usless fact of the day- because of the Yorkshire winters they couldn't get out often so they built the biggest Scalextric track in the county/ country / world to keep themselves occupied.

Facebook invents new unit of time to measure modern attention spans: 1/705,600,000 of a sec

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In the good old days, light speed was 1 foot per nanosecond. Isn't that good enough?

A certain millennial turned 30 recently: Welcome to middle age, Microsoft Excel v2

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Re: Filemaker

I think you mean Quattro- I remember it because whilst 123 could sort by 3 columns, Quattro could sort by 5. Lets not forget Lotus Symphony, which did database, spreadsheet, wordprocessing etc all cunningly concealed as a spreadsheet.

HMS Queen Elizabeth has sprung a leak and everyone's all a-tizzy

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As one who was in the business, there is a well- trodden path to go down. FATS for factory acceptance tests, i.e. is it painted the right colour, is the red light on the left, etc. Then we move onto HATS, harbour acceptance trials i.e. does it float the right way up, does the radar work, DOES IT LEAK, are there sufficient sockets for kettles. Finally, SATS ( as above but at sea). Does it roll over, can it go back and forward, does it make a good "thrum" at full speed ahead. Who signed off Harbour Acceptance?

Boss visited the night shift and found a car in the data centre

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What did he do?

When I was an apprentice a mate rebuilt a Land Rover using the facilities of the material stores and replaced every bit of aluminium. His conversion to run it on Calor gas needed my assistance, as he was drawing off the gas so fast that the gas bottle was freezing. My solution- get a reel of 23/0076 wire, wind the cable round the gas cylinder and slap it across the battery. Eventually we worked out a control system (a switch) to stop the battery going flat.

Scared of that new-fangled 'cloud'? Office 2019 to the rescue!

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The problem is...

How do I get Access?

Canadian sniper makes kill shot at distance of 3.5 KILOMETRES

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Do Americans have the same rules as the British?

Incoming fire has the right of way.

What you thought was a diversion is the main attack.

Remember-your weapon was made by the lowest bidder.

Fighter pilot shot down laptops with a flick of his copper-plated wrist

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Re: I confess...

Leicester, the New Parks site.

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I confess...

I worked at a big Marconi site and every Monday morning, the main breaker had tripped out. It was traced back to my desk and an explanation was required. Me? Innocent! It turned out my kettle had a very slow leak to earth, when the kettle was unused over the weekend. It was enough current to trip out the main breaker. I had to buy another kettle myself.

Monster Scalextric Formula 1 circuit to go under the hammer

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Mines bigger than yours!

Not the biggest by a long way; in the 70s Fylingdales in Yorkshire was isolated by snow in winter so to amuse the UK and US staff had the biggest Scalextric layout. (Well they would, wouldnt they). A friend of a friend made a fortune fixing US kit that had been plugged into our mains.

Scoop! The inside story of the news website that saved the BBC

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Great article!

It continuously evolves, improving every time. One long-awaited change I want, though is the change from 4/3 to 16/9 aspect ratio to get rid of the wasted space down each side of the screen. Perhaps its still 4/3 for ancient monitors but couldn't a bit of script read the aspect and squeeze to 4/3 if required?

Reader input required: review our reviews

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Who is it for?

Make it clear who the review is aimed for; Blackberrys have good security (rumor 1) but are a fashion item down the local pub. NAS boxes are creeping further from business users down to domestic (rumor 2), so make it clear whether your review is aimed at the dolly-bird on the street corner or the sys admin stuck in the basement. Your "Best 10" are good, though.

20 years of GSM digital mobile phones

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Memory cards

The memory cards have changed as well; my first Sharp (with a 1.3 meg camera) took a 8Mb full-size SD card and my Nokia 6300 has a 128Mb micro-sd card.

Windows 8: An awful lot of change for a single release

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Load of Brick Glue!

They even named it after the stuff- Windows CE ME NT.

When our company got to Win 2000, we still had to supply a major customer with all files readable in Office 4.3 format, running on Win 3.1 as they wouldn't trust anything new (or couldn't screw it down tightly enough!)

Swiss boffins jump in Lake Lugano for Cray super

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:Never mind the birds

Fish like it warm as well; I seem to remember as a child, fish caught in the rivers near power station cooling tower outlets were bigger as well.

Got a BMW? Thicko thieves can EASILY NICK IT with $30 box

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Not again?

Porsche had this problem of code capture years ago; I can't remember how they solved it anymore. Lotus use "Dynamic coding" of the transmitter keys, so that an encrypted alarm code rolls or changes to guard against "Code capture" by anyone trying to nick it.

Samsung flogs 10 million Galaxy S IIIs in 7 weeks

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Old Fogey

I'll stick to my Nokia 6300, thanks.

(unpacks folding walking stick, shuffles off stage left)

Burnt Samsung Galaxy S III singed by external source, probe reveals

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Wash & spin-

I left a 16Gb USB memory stick in my jeans pocket once and my wife washed them on the 55 min cycle on our Bosch washer. 3 days in the airing cupboard for the byteStor memory stick fixed it fine. Have I got a got a good USB stick or a crap washer?

Atari turns 40: Pong, Pac-Man and a $500 gamble

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Those were the days..

In the 70s HP computers came with a 5 1/4 demo disk that had Pac-Man and a op-amp circuit on it. One could vary the components round the op-amp and see the frequency response on a split-screen (wow!) underneath in real time. That was used once then it was Pac-Man all the way. The designers at HP had put some cunning anti-piracy on the floppy; it had 42 tracks instead of the regular 40, and if tracks 41 and 42 weren't there it wouldn't play. Sods!

Gigapixel camera heralds new world of snoopery

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A few years ago someone used a Canon G series compact on a motor driven tripod to produce a hi-res photo of London, using software to stitch the images together. I reckon there is a Canon G series and a Playmobil team in that box, doing the same trick.

Vauxhall Ampera hybrid e-car

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Battery life?

Who is going to pay for a new set of batteries when they die? The first owner or the 4th? GM products ain't gonna last any longer than that! Can you imagine the poor owner trying to cram the batteries into the battery disposal box in the local supermarket?

Inside Nvidia's GK110 monster GPU

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Will it get me to my Friday beer quicker?

Pints under attack as Lord Howe demands metric-only UK

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Confusion reigns

You youngsters got it easy- O level geography maps had to learnt twice, in case we got a map in inches per mile or centimetres per kilometre. When I got to college for HNC, we had to learn valves/transistors and thyratrons/thyristors because we were in another changeover.

At least electricity goes at a sensible speed; 1 nanosecond per foot, which was fine for a starting point for signal delays across pcbs.

Don't forget the bloody Euro lot do fuel consumption upside down as well as metric, its litres per 100km over there.

Coat, fold-out walking stick, stomps off stage left.

Solving traffic jams with maths

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When I were a lad...

In West Germany in the v early 60's they had it solved; in many towns, inductive sensors measured traffic flow, a box with transistors (or valves?) did the maths and a speed indicator on each lamp post told you the speed to do to hit the next light at green. Ok, it might have been only 20, but it was green all the way. Peace, calm, with no smoking tyres or brakes.

Google's self-driving car snags first-ever license in Nevada

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Me or Chocolate?

Just suppose I was googling along and there was a collision with another vehicle. If the other party was at fault, which one of us claims the insurance?

Basic instinct: how we used to code

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Good old days...

When I worked at the British United Shoe Machinery Company (yes, it was a mouthful) we hired computer time down a phone line in London and fed punched tape in at night; the result came back the next day. I still have my BBC Advanced User Guide in the attic, but dare not switch the BBC on in case capacitors have leaked and it goes bang! My clock is a few cycles out by now, it must be beer time.

A million TVs to go dark across London

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Don't matter to me..

Crystal Palace is the one I can't get .. My aerial (in Leicestershire) points at the local East Midlands aerial at Waltham, about 25 miles away, but I get South Yorkshire / Lincs and Granada as well. Central Tonight, Calendar News or Granada Reports (in HD) are my choices. The auto-tune defaults to South Yorkshire!

BBC Micro team to celebrate historic machine's 30th year

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Apologies to Sir Clive- I meant the Z8, not the Z80!

So, what IS the worst film ever made?

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Thumb Down


Terrible remake! When are they going to the remake/part 2 where they rescue the gold at the end?

Apple iPad 3 packs LAPTOP battery

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Power drain

My old Canon G9 compact has a button to turn the display off between shots to extend battery life, so I assume all real SLRs have the same option. How about a "feature" that turns the display off unless the front-facing camera sees you looking at it?

Nuke clock incapable of losing time chimes with boffins

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Re Chimes are one thing

Back in the good old days of analogue TV I set my clocks and watches by the teletext clock when BST came and went, which gave h/m/s. Now teletext isn't even sure what the second is, it only gives h/m and that disagrees (runs late) with analogue teletext. GET IT SORTED!

LYING iPhone 4S mobes claim 4G connection on 3G network

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Its not 4G

It's 3.5001G, which wont fit in the space, so it rounds up to 4G; obvious, innit?

Apple: We never said Siri would actually work in the UK

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All I need is a phone that tells me where the nearest pint is on Friday..