* Posts by H in The Hague

803 posts • joined 17 Jan 2013


UK launches 'consultation' with EU over exclusion from science programs

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Reap what you sow

"Strictly speaking they should claim back the UK VAT they already paid, ..."

Nope. That was the VAT Retail Export Scheme - withdrawn as of 1-1-2021 (except for NI).


https://www.executivetraveller.com/news/uk-to-axe-duty-free-sales-vat-refund (heading: Also for the chop: VAT refunds)

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/duty-free-extended-to-the-eu-from-january-2021 (heading: VAT Retail Export Scheme)

"There's no requirement that they pay twice."

Unfortunately now there is - if you go shopping in the UK. The only way to avoid paying twice is if the UK-based supplier ships the item to the customer's address, then they only have to pay their national VAT. So that means more hassle, shipping costs and time, and discouraging customers from spending in UK shops. Not great for the tourist industry, methinks (https://www.fashionroundtable.co.uk/news/2020/11/24/the-vat-retail-export-scheme).

However, tourists resident outside the EU can still get EU VAT refunds when they return home. So for a Canadian tourist it's now much more attractive to buy that expensive handbag in Amsterdam than in London.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Reap what you sow

"... free trade agreement with the European Union that would significantly reduce tariffs, duties and bureaucracy ..."

As far as I'm aware there are currently no tariffs or duties between the UK and the EU. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Unfortunately there is now more bureaucracy, just like when trading with, say, the US or Canada (and then tariffs/duties may be relevant).

And tourists entering the EU from the UK, and vice-versa, now have to pay VAT when bringing back overseas shopping beyond their personal allowance (GBP 390 or EUR 430) - same as if they were bringing shopping back from New York. (That's really reduced the amount we spend in the UK.)

But that's simply what folk voted for.

Oh Deere: Farm hardware jailbroken to run Doom

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Re: Remote hacks

Well ....

Two or three years ago I went to a presentation by them (or was it Stihl?) where they showed us autonomous mowers, deployed by a drone. So, chainsaws might be next :)

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

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

"If you look at the wiring on some of those old Teasmaids, .."

Yup, a friend of mine had one decades ago. One morning, half-asleep he reached for the teapot (metal) and the 240 V through his fingers woke him up very quickly. Luckily no permanent harm done.

Engineers on the brink of extinction threaten entire tech ecosystems

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Re: I started my career as an electronics engineer

"it's very useful to have a thermal camera, especially for troubleshooting"

An "imaging thermometer" is even cheaper. I've got


and RS have an own brand unit which is cheaper still.

Also, speaking from experience, handy for tracing pipes in the wall if a metal detector doesn't pick them up (e.g. modern polymer pipes).

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

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Re: It's still going on

"MS Onedrive."

A year or two ago a customer decided to keep all the files for a project I was helping with on Onedrive ("It's in the Cloud, so it must be safe."). As we were getting close to the completion of the project I got an e-mail from them saying their files had disappeared - they couldn't see anything when they logged in to Onedrive and were more than a little unhappy about that.

Oddly enough, when I logged in to the same Onedrive I could see all their files - so I downloaded everything, and sent it to them with the suggestion that keeping local copies of their data might not be a bad idea, old-fashioned though that concept may be.

A good weekend to all Commentards. -->

Digital burglary at recruitment agency Morgan Hunt confirmed

H in The Hague Silver badge

Why not store some data offline?

Quote from the article: "identity documents, proof of address documents (including any bank or building society statement provided)"

Why is that data even kept online? You would expect they only need that once, when they start working with somebody. Keeping it offline, possibly as hard copy in a filing cabinet would make it much easier to protect the data. Would cost a little more in storage and clerical expenses, but would make data protection compliance easier and cheaper, and would probably reduce ICO fines and legal hassle from folk whose PPI has been leaked.

Or does even thinking of that make me an old fossil?

Pentester says he broke into datacenter via hidden route running behind toilets

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Re: False floors too

"Current working location, very large, very old building."

With a view of the Thames, by chance?

Marriott Hotels admits to third data breach in 4 years

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"(Sorry, but I need a bit of cheering up at the moment.)"

Have one of these --> or a nice cuppa might be even better.

Google location tracking to forget you were ever at that medical clinic

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"Then again, as shown frequently before, that "old fashioned thing" most likely is tomorrows fashion."

I've been using digital cameras for about two decades now. But the other week I got a fashionable 'new' camera: a Kodak Brownie II, probably over a century old, still works. A snip at EUR 28 with a free roll of film (120 format), from Foto Americaine in The Hague, est. 1906. Quite a few cool (not geeky) young people avail themselves of their 1 hour turnaround on developing B/W film. They mentioned they're going to open a darkroom to give courses.

And one of the folk in the shop told me that quite a few young people are now shooting Super 8 movies again (a medium I thought had been killed by video a few decades ago), using negative film (cheaper than reversal) which they then scan and invert. Apparently the guy at the Super 8 lab (super8.nl) is flooded with work.

So a complete time warp (bit like the Suzanne Vega concert last week - she sounded just like she did 30 years ago).

A happy weekend to all Commentards. -->

Soviet-era tech could change the geothermal industry

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Shallow and deep geothermal wells

There are shallower wells which produce a lower temperature and are often used with heat pumps, for domestic heating, etc.

The Westland area of the Netherlands where there are lots of greenhouses which used to be heated by gas are now moving to deep geothermal wells, 2000 - 3000 m, that gives you hot enough water for direct heating, no heat pump needed. Slight problem: the wells also bring natural gas to the surface and there has indeed been an explosion at one of these geothermal plants. The idea is to separate the gas and use that to run a gas engine which generates electricity (for export to the grid), more greenhouse heating, and CO2 (which is also used in the greenhouses to increase plant growth).

Here's one such project (sorry, website only in Dutch): https://www.triaswestland.nl/

Know the difference between a bin and /bin unless you want a new doorstop

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"... cassette was about 6.5 x 1 x 1 metres. Strange terminology"

How about 40 ft?


Used in ports to handle shipping containers, steel slabs, etc.

Don't have any moving parts or electrics, so essentially maintenance free. Transported by translifters which slide into the cassette and then the shunting tractor lifts them.

Password recovery from beyond the grave

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Talking of the DR plan in the safe ...

Yesterday, as we were out cycling, a motorscooter got a bit too close for comfort. That reminded me of the bus factor and inspired me to mention to Mrs H that one of these days she should get my folder with passwords and computer-related notes out of the safe and try and access my system with them. I think I wrote everything down clearly - but did I? And can she remember in which safe place she put the key to the safe?

Giant outsourcer keeps work from home, loses tax breaks. Government says 'good riddance'

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Re: Shocked

"Put hubs in residential areas to support home working"

That sounds like the 'telecottages' of two or three decades ago. That concept was developed to allow remote working at a time when not that many people had an Internet connection at home.

History does repeat itself. Just like to a relative oldie like me, 'cloud computing' sounds suspiciously like 'timesharing', 'remote data processing', etc we used to have yonks ago :)

How one techie ended up paying the tab on an Apple Macintosh Plus

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Some things never change

I'm pretty sure it's 2022 now, and that all the folk at one of my valued customers, a fairly technical business, are under 50, most of them under 40. But apparently some things never change.

Right now, I'm translating their terms and conditions into English. What program did they use to write the document? A word processor? Nope, they used PowerPoint. And how did they number the clauses in the agreement and created hanging indents if a clause spans more than one line? Did they click the handy Numbered list icon at the top of the screen? Nope, they numbered every clause by hand, then at the end of a line hit Enter, and indented the new line with spaces.

Am I enjoying translating this document? Nope.

Fortunately there's a remedy -->

A good weekend to all Commentards.

Tough news for Apple as EU makes USB-C common charging port for most electronic devices

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Re: Next week:

"New, massively more efficient changing tech invented that requires a new port design. "

Nope. USB C can carry enough power for most devices in this class. Any "more efficient charging" tech is likely to be implemented within the battery or its battery management system inside the device, so the connector supplying the power to it is irrelevant.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Charge the chargers

"When the EU is going to do anything about the Chinese chargers being sold that don't meet any safety and electromagnetic emission norms?"

As far as I'm aware, the EU only passes legislation. On the whole, enforcement* is a matter for the member states (for reasons of sovereignty, subsidiarity, etc.). In most cases that's handled by each country's equivalent of Trading Standards - authorities which in some countries have had their budgets cut a lot in recent years (so they won't burden businesses by trying to enforce democratically agreed legislation to protect consumers).

* As an aside: I think only the EU anti-kartel folk have an enforcement branch.

Beware the fury of a database developer torn from tables and SQL

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Re: Just a quick question.

"... expressions that are quite innocent in one place can be vulgar or have unintended connotations in others .."

I have a hazy collection that one of my process engineering books or dictionaries claims that the European Spanish word for 'heat exchanger' means 'brothel keeper' in South American Spanish (or the other way round, can't find the book right now).

Any hispanophone Commentards out there who can help?

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Don't forget to proofread

"even native Welsh people don't speak it as their first language"

Not sure that's correct, I think some of my more distant, youngish in-laws mostly spoke Welsh at home and at school.

Seriously, you do not want to make that cable your earth

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Re: What On "Earth"?

"I've seen this, a friend in a very rural home commented to me that the washing machine in an outbuilding gave her a shock ..."

Problems like that with outbuildings are quite common. Sometimes you'll get a potential gradient across the yard between the outbuilding and the main building due to earthing problems, leakage, etc. As cows have their legs widely spaced and don't usually sport insulating footwear they are sensitive to that as they experience quite a large potential difference between their front and rearquarters - so if your livestock refuse to cross the yard that might be due to an electrical issue.

Tech pros warn EU 'data adequacy' at risk if Brexit Britain goes its own way

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Re: Hmm

"I most earnestly wished for a WTO deal."

Have you ever tried to navigate the WTO website to check tariffs and non-tariff barriers? And tried to deal with different product standards?

Lawyers say changes to UK data law will make life harder for international businesses

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Re: BREXIT was a massive and expensive lie.

"All of the EU citizens who could previously visit the UK with their ID cards now need a passport"

Yup! That's one thing I really don't understand. Presumably in most EU member states the ID cards and passports are generated using the same databases and are therefore pretty much equivalent. (Or have I got that wrong?) Seems pointless and must really hurt the language school and school trips market.

September 16, 1992, was not a good day to be overly enthusiastic about your job

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: "Everyone had to leave" knee-jerk reaction

Hedging wasn't relevant while the Pound was in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which kept fluctuations very small. The problem was caused by the Pound dropping from the ERM (aka proto-euro).

Apart from that, I'm not sure hedging is available for relatively small transactions like they were doing. But definitely an option when you're building an oil refinery.

A Dutch colleague mentioned that they'd concluded a contract with a UK customer the week before Black Wednesday, fortunately for them the contract was in guilders (remember those?).

Thinnet cables are no match for director's morning workout

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Re: Full names please.......

"Mr. Payne"

Related to our friends in Twickenham, Wake & Paine Funeral Directors? Yes, they do exist, I've walked past their offices.


Have a good weekend.

BOFH: Something's consuming 40% of UPS capacity – and it's coming from the beancounters' office

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Re: The security system

"Only specific locks fail secure ..."

That reminds me of an anecdote a long-retired friend told me, probably happened in the 1960s:

"When I started with the company the oil industry wasn't doing very well so they built 'austerity refineries' on the cheap. One day there was a fire at my refinery. After a short time the site power went down, which caused the main gates to close - just as the local fire brigade were approaching."

Almost that time of day -->

Have a good weekend.

You can buy a company. You can buy a product. Common sense? Trickier

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Re: 'twas ever thus

"The previous owner took everything including the floorboards. This was apparently considered normal."

Never heard of that! And definitelt not normal, anything that is fixed with screws, nails or adhesive is normally considered part of the property and to be left behind. And certainly nowadays the seller will complete a list indicating which items will be removed, left behind, or can be acquired by the purchaser (e.g. freestanding appliances, built-in appliances would be considered part of the building).

Japanese startup makes baby carrier-style sling for 'Love Robots'

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: I had a shoulder holster made for my Psion 5

"Now I'm wondering it one of these for a laptop/tablet might actually be quite a boon."

Like one of these?


Designed for use on film sets, in theatres, etc.

The month I worked for DEADHEAD: Yes, that was their job title

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Re: I have to ask ....

I assumed this was it:


Though some commentards are suggesting it's a genuine thing.

Anyway, soon it will be time for -->

A good weekend to all.

How experimental was Microsoft's 'experimental banner' in File Explorer?

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"Windows file manager is crap compared to the competition on other OS, ..."

What alternative file manager would you suggest, for those of us who have to use Windows for one reason or another?

114 billion transistors, one big meh. Apple's M1 Ultra wake-up call

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Re: Hmmm..

"He didn't once stop to ask what benefit anyone using the tech would receive."

Hmm, most of my customers (engineering, etc.) figured out a decade or two ago that they really had to emphasise the benefits to the customer rather than technical cleverness.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: I saw the reveal presentation, and, while I'm no fanboy, I was amazed

"Of course that doesn't count firefox which appears to have an instance for every tab, some of which are consuming 400MiB+."

Interesting. Right now I've got around 25 tabs open in Firefox and it's using around 1.5 GB. I might try and open the same tabs in Vivaldi and compare its memory usage if I get a moment.

IT blamed after HR forgets to install sockets in new office

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Re: Flood wire everywhere

"... did the site survey works properly."

One of my books on ground engineering includes a note to the effect that "any assumed savings by economising on the site survey often lead to much greater costs later on in the project lifecycle". (Apol if I've posted this before.)

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

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Re: Adverts

"I never did figure out why, and it's still rather determined that I should buy women's clothes"

Yup, happened here a few years ago. For some reason some advertising system thought I was a German-speaking lady, plus-sized, looking to buy swimwear in drab colours (I'm not). Very specific targeting, and very specially way off the mark on each of those factors.

AI really can't copyright the art it generates – US officials

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Re: Trademarks vs patents

"Incorrect. Here in the US, copyright is automatically granted to the author of an original work."

Thanks for the correction, I misunderstood that.

However, in the US you do have to register copyright to be able to enforce it effectively:

"Registering a work is not mandatory, but for U.S. works, registration (or refusal) is necessary to enforce the exclusive rights of copyright through litigation."


I meant to say that in, say, European countries there is no registration system.

H in The Hague Silver badge

"... someone needs to let him know that AIs are not legal entities in the same way as, for example, a spanner is not a legal entity."

That is correct under current law and jurisprudence/case law in the countries I'm familiar with. However, presumably his whole point is that the AI should now be considered as a legal entity.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Trademarks vs patents

"Thaler has also fought trademark agencies in the US, England and Wales, and Australia to assign patents to another automated system he created known as DABUS."

That sentence in the article puzzles me - the article is about copyright (which in the US you have to apply for, in most other countries it is created at the same time as the work in question), which has nothing to do with trademark (which would cover a trade name, such as DABUS or The Register), and is completely different from a patent. Furthermore, in most countries patents, trademarks and copyrights (if there is an agency for it at all) are dealt with by quite separate agencies.

IBM looked to reinvigorate its 'dated maternal workforce'

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Re: Accenture

"So I repeat Beancounters only understand Beancounters..."

Yup, and that can cost their companies a lot of money.

Years ago I was doing quite a bit of work for a specialist engineering company, working directly for a head of department. When the work expanded and their sister companies wanted to work with me I had to have a chat with somebody in Purchasing. He got a real sense of accomplishment negotiating my hourly rate down by 6%. Which I was v happy about as my main contact in the company had warned me about this so I'd upped my rate by 10% for the negotiation. Basically, his efforts resulted in me charging 4% than I used to. :)

He also insisted I kept proper time sheets, which at first I really didn't like. But I changed my tune when my billable hours went up by about 15% due to improved record keeping. :)

So his effort at driving costs down cost his company a fair bit of money, and bought me many, many beers (well, bottles of wine). Thanks!

Beware the big bang in the network room

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Re: Talking about cables

"but someone decided to move the displays and instruments, so the cables are no longer long enough. "

Thanks for the info. I'd read about the issue and wondered what caused it. Mind you, that whole project seems to be jinxed.

BOFH: The Geek's Countergambit – outwitted at an electronics store

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Re: Electronics shop

"AFAIK it's run by two guys who are not unlike Statler and Waldorf."

Very true. Might drop in there this afternoon to pick up some bits, just because I can :)

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: Electronics shop

"And it is a bit sad to think that an entire category of shops has been almost entirely eliminated ..."

I'm v lucky that here in The Hague there is still one place like that. Yes, they do sell new-fangled stuff like transistors and Arduino related kit but they also have a huge range of weird vintage kit. A few weeks ago I was admiring their shop window stuffed full of valves/tubes, HV transformers and resistors larger than my laptop computer and got chatting with a guy in his late fifties who commented that this particular display hadn't changed much since he was a teenager, and the stuff was already seriously vintage then.

They don't have much of a website, but you can see part of the shop in the banner on:


Here's one for the weekend -->

Jeff Bezos adds some more overheads to his $485m yacht by taking down historic bridge

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Picture or it didn't happen

Here's a pic of the moving part of the bridge lifted out by sheerlegs for the most recent restoration.


Also includes a pic of the yacht in the yard, on SPMTs to take it for a spin.

Shazam! Two world-record lightning events recognised

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Tripped the RCD

A few decades ago I lived in a flat and watched a thunderstorm pass overhead. Lightning then hit the drain cover in the road outside, so the bolt was right in front of me, less than 10 m away - made me jump. The lights in the flat went out as the induced current had tripped the RCD/ELCB.

We had two computers connected to a printer by fairly long serial cables so I expected all that kit (running at the time of the strike) to be toast. To my amazement both the computers and the printer survived!

UK's new Brexit Freedom Bill promises already-slated GDPR reform, easier gene editing rules

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Re: A Cool Billion ! Roll Up, Roll Up !

"Is that, just possibly, because the EU never actually had the power to force us to put those safety regulations in place, ..."

Correct. As far as I'm aware EU regs are mostly about test standards for building products and some product performance standards. Building regulations (what you construct with the products) are generally up to national governments.

For example - when are sprinklers required in dwellings?

- England: if > 38 metres high, changing to if > 11 metres

- Scotland: all flats/social housing, etc. (until recently only if > 18 m)

- Wales: all dwellings (since 2013)

International example: the standards for front door thresholds (yup, I've done CPD on that) are stricter/better in England than in the Netherlands.

So, nothing to do with the EU.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: OK.

"Once we've lowered UK food standards to match USA ones instead of EU ones, it'll be harder to ..."

... export food to the EU :(

So much for supporting British farmers.

H in The Hague Silver badge

Re: A Cool Billion ! Roll Up, Roll Up !

"... by scrapping onerous safety regulations"

Which has little to do with Brexit. On the whole, EU regs apply to products (ladders, safety glasses, machines, etc.). The safety stuff people complain most about (very occasionally with justification) generally has to do with safety at work, i.e. processes - which are mostly covered by national rather than EU law. On the whole, UK health and safety regs are stricter than those in other countries and possibly better observed and enforced.

UK government responds to post-Brexit concerns and of course it's all the fault of those pesky EU negotiators

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Re: .....but in the "sunny uplands" this sort of c**k up never happens, does it?

"it was the whole touring industry of specialist hauliers"

For details, specifically those affecting British hauliers who used to do a lot of work in this sector but have now lost cabotage rights in the EU:


And the sound and lighting hire companies which used to serve the EU market from the EU are also greatly affected as they now have to make arrangements for temporary import :(

Carked it, Diem? Zuckerberg's grand cryptocurrency thing may sell off assets for $200m

H in The Hague Silver badge

What is the point?

What is the point of having a cryptocurrency linked to a conventional/fiat currency? Wouldn't it be easier just to use the conventional currency? Am I missing something?

Hardware boffin starts work on simulation of an entire IBM S/360 Model 50 mainframe

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Front panel as home decoration/art

I always fancied mounting one of the front panels on the wall as decoration, art even.

Never got one but love browsing through the pics on http://www.righto.com/2019/04/iconic-consoles-of-ibm-system360.html Iconic indeed - how many of us grew up thinking that computers look like that. That site also has an interesting discussion of the 555 timer chip.

Planning for power cuts? That's strictly for the birds

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"And yet the word "dip-stick" is used to describe someone not very useful!"

Correct, but that's rhyming slang for p**ck.

Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

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"There was a Top Gear episode where they interviewed the woman who did the design of the signs."

Margaret Calvert. If you have access to BBC iPlayer it is currently available as Series 14, episode 7. She also recently featured in Secrets of the Museum, the programme about the V&A, but that's not currently available.

Or see:


Incidentally, the brown background for tourist attractions (introduced in the 1980s) has more recently been adopted in other European countries.



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