* Posts by Alan Potter

73 publicly visible posts • joined 13 May 2006


Ricoh CX1

Alan Potter


I think the "party mode" option would be great - only it work as it should do in that mode. It would recognise potentially embarrassing or career-damaging situations and photograph those automatically, preferably slightly out of focus and - ahem - over-exposed...

Boffins finger reason for non-aligned cows

Alan Potter
Paris Hilton

Your title can be read so many ways...

Headline: "Boffins finger reason for non-aligned cows"

And we have the story about the chap with a USB finger...

And I'm not even going to go to "fingering" - I'm just sad that the following word was "reason" and not "Paris..."

Red Dwarf finally returns to Earth

Alan Potter

Smirk mode

I just hope they don't "last chicken in the shop"-up

Alan Potter

Cue cards?

What is this rubbish about cue cards? I saw one episode (Camille) being recorded - and that was great fun - and there wasn't a cue card in sight!

If they can drop the "joke" that was in the last two series about Cat detecting things through his whiskers, that would be good. And while I liked Hilly, Holly was better.

And if they were to return to Earth, wasn't it supposed to be flooded - certainly at Fuchal?

I think Queeg should make a little appearance too.

Great news as long as they don't f it up they way they did with the various visual versions of HHGTTG...

Google scrubs urinating woman from Street View

Alan Potter

Taking the piss

I'm sorry - that was such an obvious title but it had to be done. The story sort-of leads us to all the debate about ID cards, The old bollocks about "if you have nothing to hide then you have no reason not to have an ID card", which has been phrased far more succinctly in the past sort-of fits in here. Yes, okay, she was not identifiable from that shot - at least by a stranger - but what if this was at the end of an office party and she was recognised by her boss? Okay - her activity was a little anti-social or unfortunate but - hey - what if it led to a criminal conviction? I could imagine Judge Dredd turning up there.

So - while I applaud Google for scrubbing the image (and gaining some PR in the meantime - after all, they didn't have to tell anybody about this, did they?), doesn't it worry you about how much is actually being recorded from sources that don't necessarily have to follow all the applicable privacy laws?

Aussie boffins use sarcasm to investigate brain illness

Alan Potter

They used sarcasm - they knew all the tricks

Didn't Monty Python do this with the Piranha Brothers?

Doctor amputates boy's arm using SMS instructions

Alan Potter

Predictive text?

Type "Amputate" get "Costated". Try typing "Gangrenous" and get as far as "Hangse" before the phone gives up. Luckily, the phone recognises "arm". So the surgeon gets the instruction: "Costated Hangse arm". I hope they survived that.

The recipient should consider themselves lucky that they hadn't turned up for a vasectomy. Although the phone recognises that word. That's a shame. I was hoping for some comedic opportunity there.

US prosthetic todger pair plead guilty to conspiracy

Alan Potter


You weren't the only one to think of Withnail here. You wouldn't happen to have a Camberwell carrot lying around anywhere, would you?

Tron sequel already in production

Alan Potter

Discs of death

I remember this film when it first came out. And the MCP. And I remember getting very well paid at a company which shall remain unnamed where another chap and I were contractors and had to turn up one weekend (we were developers) ready to fix any bugs the QA peeps found. There was a commercial release on Monday. Quality, eh?

Anyway, we'd both just seen TRON and so went out and bought quite a few frisbees and, back in the warehouse bit of the company we honed our frisbee skills. Luckily no limbs or heads were severed during our play.

I thought TRON was a shite film when it came out, but unusual. I fear that TR2N will be more of the former and less of the latter. But I'll probably still go and see it.

Half of Brits abuse apostrophe's

Alan Potter

CV's and Photo's

There's an apostrophe in both those places because they are indicating missing letters. Of course, if we were being truly pedantic, CV's should be something like C.V.s.

And the next question is, if you're asking a question where you are quoting someone, even though they didn't ask a question, where does the question mark go? Especially when their quote finished with punctuation.

For example, Adam Foxton's post "The Profesur <sic> emerishus <sic>..." etc finishes by saying "Also, the apostrophe isn't that hard to use!" - Suppose I want to disagree with him which, I don't really, in this thread, but I shall use it as an example.

So what I want to ask is: "Can you believe Foxton wrote 'Also the apostrophe isn't that hard to use!'?"

That looks a mess from a punctuation point of view. Maybe it just needs a space or two...

BTW Using too many asterisks caused someone to invent a "flabbergasterisk".

Swedish transsexuals offered prosthetic todgers

Alan Potter


@Andus - I think your wife means "echtomy" - Which hospital does she work at? I must remember to avoid it - "No Nurse! I said 'prick his boil!'"

Virgin cuts broadband to a fiver

Alan Potter
Paris Hilton

O2 vs Virgin

I know it's not really de rigeur to post positive things about companies, but I really must say that I've been impressed with O2. When I first switched to them from Carphone Whorehouse they couldn't have been more helpful. And they were friendly too. I was so impressed I actually wrote to them to tell them so! They didn't reply though. Bastards.

CW and Virgin on the other hand were extremely unimpressive. Mind you, Virgin is crap with its credit cards too.

PH because I mentioned Virgin.

Sainsbury's punts 'Innocent kids juices' for £2.99

Alan Potter
IT Angle


I won't complain about the change in format of ElReg because I usually love the content. But this article really is late on a Friday afternoon after a good lunchtime in the pub level of quality.

So someone missed out an apostrophe. Who gives a flying fuck? The grammatical error is endemic. Yes, it pisses a lot of us off, but I fail to see the IT angle. Even slightly.

Have you suddenly started being sponsored by The Daily Mail?

Aussie has answer to save Earth from asteroid attack

Alan Potter

@Dave the box

You've just given me an idea - why don't we just send in the Piranha Brothers?

No snapping: Photographers get collars felt

Alan Potter

Politics by name has nothing to do with it.

I get extraordinarily bored with postings that say "New" (or even worse) "Nu" Labour are to blame for everything. Does anybody really think things would be different if the Tories or the LibDems or even the Raving Monster Loony Party were in power?

We have a ruling party that we have very little, if any, power over and it doesn't matter what they call themselves. Their closeness to the doctrines of their underlying political philosophy is embarrassingly difficult to spot. Does anyone, for one moment, believe that whomever takes over at the next general election will rip out all the CCTV and/or the speed cameras that they have been deriding this government about? Of course not. They'll just breathe a sigh of relief that someone else got to do the dirty work that they intended to do.

At least, at the moment, we still believe that we have some form of freedom of speech, although how much effect that freedom actually has on our lives is probably regrettably very little. But the tabloids give us "bread and circuses" which shuts most people up, sadly.

Anatomy of a malware scam

Alan Potter

Excellent article

I hope you make a lot of money from consultancy jobs after this article. It was very well written and should be printed out and put up on every Health and Safety noticeboard in the country.

@Shane McCarrick: When you point out other people's grammatical errors, you really shouldn't introduce your own, i.e.:

"Figure 8 (the terms and conditions): Random use of capital letters, and multiple examples of words which would normally be combined together or hyphenated"

"Combined together" ? How tautological is that?

Any one will do, as long as it's stab-proof.

Be Unlimited pulls plug on home CCTV service

Alan Potter
Thumb Up

Don't knock O2

I'm not affiliated with O2 or anything like it. I've just been a broadband customer of theirs for about a year and I really can't complain at all. Their support is very helpful and positive - and it's in the UK so you stand a chance of understanding what they're saying! I was so impressed with their support that I actually sent a letter to them, thanking them.

Dog off the menu at Olympic restaurants

Alan Potter

@Rob Marsh

I think your comment could be misinterpreted, considering what a lot of men consider to be their best friend...

Never ask for a doggy bag BTW...

easyJet warns Expedia: 'Hands off our flights'

Alan Potter

Screen scraping

There are IP laws that govern against screen scraping. This was explained to me by the very nice (and I mean that genuinely) Robbie Cowling, founder of Jobserve when I was trying to create a job portal that screen scraped all the main jobsites a few years ago. I phoned him to ask him nicely if I could include his jobsite. He told me that I couldn't. I replied that because his website was in the public domain, surely it had no "copyright" or similar and therefore he couldn't stop me. He pointed me in the direction of a number of legal documents online.

I shut up and promised not to screenscrape his site. Then went and hid - just in case...

Surely EasyJet et al could apply the same laws?

What I learned from a dumb terminal

Alan Potter
IT Angle


Showing my age here. I used to sell microcomputers (i.e. before they were called PCs) and we had this word processor called Wordstar. It was great but it certainly wasn't WYSIWYG, nor was it GUI-based. A lot of the commands to do things like boldface (oh - there were no laser printers then, either. The height of technical excellence was the daisywheel printer). So - if you wanted to put something in boldface you would type ctrl-B then your text then ctrl-B again. Yes, I know the same is true in Word now. Anyway, there were other commands which involved using Ctrl-Q. So you had things like Ctrl-Q B which marked the beginning of a block, and then you had Ctrl-Q K which marked the end of a block. ("B" "K" - geddit?). And then you had Ctrl-Q Q followed by some other Ctrl character which meant: repeat whatever character or command follows the Ctrl Q Q sequence until another key is pressed.

I had a client I was supporting. They were using Wordstar. They were having problems. And they had a stammer. And they were trying to tell me their problem.

Cue: "I pressed ctrl-q-q-q-q I-I-I pressed pressed ctrl-q-c-ctrl" etc. I gave up.

It wasn't as bad, however, as when a nephew of mine went to get the results of a biopsy on a brain tumour. Was it Benign or Malignant? The consultant had a stammer: "We have your results. Your tumour is bbbb-mmmmm-bb-mm-bbb etc" Luckily it was benign.

Sorry - wandered off-thread (hence the IT? icon) there for a mo but I still thought it was amusing...

Fire at The Planet takes down thousands of websites

Alan Potter
Dead Vulture

Could have been worse...


Ian McKellen to reprise Gandalf

Alan Potter

Why doesn't someone turn "Bored of the Rings" into a film?

With characters like "Dildo Bugger" and such it could make such a great parody with the right director...

Prank callers crash Dublin Zoo phone system

Alan Potter
Gates Horns

Mike Hunt

I was once sent to Tesco's to get some 'Pressed Vole'

We also convinced our Dev Mgr (many moons ago) that we needed several ooglybytes of memory. He asked us to generate a purchase order, which we duly did. We just wish we had been at the management meeting when he presented this. Anyway, we were turned down.

Mr Gates because we'll probably need ooglybytes when SP3 for Vista comes out

EMC eyes video snooping biz

Alan Potter
Paris Hilton

We're back to "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

So - all these snoopers are going to gang together to ensure our every little move is covered and integrated, eh? Nice. And what are they going to do with this data? Could this become a sort-of graphical Phorm?

Ms. Hilton because I'm sure she'd welcome this sort of attention.

On a completely different tack, why does the "Joke Alert" icon generally mean that the posting itself is completely unfunny, or at least lame?

T5 opening turns into Airplane 3.0

Alan Potter

See this week's New Scientist

In the Feedback section at the back, a worker at NS talks about how they always go for the biometric Iris checking scheme. It always fails. Then he comes out, tells the airport staff that it has failed. They shrug their shoulders and put him at the front of the queue.

I think there is a lesson in this for everyone...

Alan Potter

It seems Terry Jones was extremely psychic...


(And if the title isn't grammatically correct, I don't care...

Australian man killed by suicide robot

Alan Potter
Dead Vulture

Can't be a Darwin award...

...those are awarded to fuckwits who died accidentally through their own stupidity. So unless this guy thought he could somehow dodge the bullets or was hoping that someone would rescue him at the last minute, I don't think this was accidental, nor do I think the guy was stupid. The fact that he had the ingenuity to build a machine like this, I think, shows why had had no intention of going to a nursing home, having his intellect sucked from him by dribbling wrinklies whose idea of an intellectual challenge is finishing the crossword in "Best" or winning the bingo.

Well done to him, I say, although I personally would have chosen something a little less potentially painful...

Arthur C. Clarke dead at 90

Alan Potter

Will he meet the beings...

...that existed at the end of 2001? I could never quite get that bit.

RIP anyway

How big an eco-hazard is IT equipment?

Alan Potter

Whither energy savings?

All these energy saving initiatives have to come from somewhere, right? And at what energy/ecological costs themselves? What costs will creating capacitors to allow zero energy consumption in standby mode involve, for example?

Like a lot of "save the planet" iniatives, it's that old magical sleight of hand - misdirection in play. Hey! Look! Your laptop's power supply is leaking power (ignore the fact that it's only half a watt) - and also ignore the fact that virtually every shop you go by in any high street is burning hundreds of the watts every night by leaving their window lights on...

Slightly off-topic here, but still relevant: "Hey, don't throw your empty cornflakes packet away - recycle it! Don't overpackage things!" Meanwhile in the office, your coffee machine has a neat vending system whereby you can choose which type of coffee/tea you want by inserting a cleverly engineered plastic widget and both it, and the cardboard box it came in, is thrown in the trash.

Finally - the old "tax the petrol - that'll reduce carbon emissions" trick. But let's build more runways and airport terminii!

I'm sorry, I got a little carried away there - but you get my drift, I hope.

Mine's the one lying on the soap box.

US woman spends two years on boyfriend's toilet

Alan Potter

Not to read while having your tea

Just a thought - her thighs and backside had sort-of melded with the toilet seat, which would pretty much make it a perfect seal. Also, at least for a while, her bowels would have been acting relatively normally so the toilet bowl must have started filling up to the point where it's actually in contact with her buttocks. And it's quite likely that at some point the smell and everything would make her vomit.

And you know how a syphon works...

IBM gets back into PCs

Alan Potter

@At least your data will be your own...

Judging by some of the Lotus Notes migration projects I've been involved with, that statement is pretty true, but not in a positive way...

Vote now for your fave sci-fi movie quote

Alan Potter

Must... stop... entering... quotes...

From Aliens:

"They mostly come at nights... mostly"

"Leave her alone - you bitch!"

From Terminator:

"You're terminated, Fucker!"

"Neeed Inpuuuut" - Number 5 (Is alive!)

"To Infinity - And Beyond!" - Toy Story (Okay, not strictly a SciFi film, but Buzz Lightyear was a spaceman

Stop sign as a reminder to self to stop putting quotes in...

And I cannot believe no-one mentioned "EXTERMINATE. EXTERMINATE!" (The Daleks from Dr Who for anything who has never existed)

"Daisy, daisy give meee yooour answwwer dooooooooo" - 2001

"The pointy birds go pointy pointy, anoint my head, anointy nointy" - The Man With Two Brains (yes, it is SciFi - it's just got comedy too!)

Alan Potter

So many quotes, so little time...

Ye cannae mix matter and anti-matter cold! - Star Trek (Can't remember which one)

A bit short for a storm trooper, aren't you? - Star Wars

It's your turn to clean out the alien - Dark Star

You gotta be fucking kidding - The Thing

Ouch! - E.T.

Odeon kicks Rambo in the 'nads

Alan Potter

Odeons and Blockheads

The last time I went to an Odeon was in Gants Hill when Ian Dury and the Blockheads were performing. I dread to think how many decades ago that was...

It nearly ended in disaster too because the boarding erected over the organ pit (yes, yes, organ, erection... ho, ho, ho) hadn't been designed to withstand the repetitive impact of several hundred people pogoing at the front of the theatre. The floor gave way and it was only the carpet that stopped people plummeting thirty or forty feet!

It was a good gig, though.

Tom Robinson also performed there - "2-4-6-8 Motorway" and "Sing if you're gad to be gay" were two of the songs he sang. Hence the happy face.

HMRC blows £1.4m on two-word slogan

Alan Potter

I really tried hard to come up with a witty reposte...

...to all the anti-HMRC comments made here, but I failed miserably. Even if you allow for the Daily Mail/Evening Standard hyperbole, there is still a shitload of money wasted somewhere, and I don't understand why. Well, no, I do understand why; but... no, words fail me.

I've worked for a major bank that spent 3 hours in a conference with 25 people attending, trying to decide whether a minor software release should be called "Release 1.4" or "Release 2" or "Post release 1.3" or "Pre-release 2". I also have a friend who works for a major Transport for London group in London (As a consultant, I never mention client names), who says that even for a minor software change they have to fill in a form of some kind which indicates the likely impact that change will make. The questions include ones on disability and racial issues. "So - I'm extending this field to have 2 decimal places. How will that affect the Nigerians?" - Sorry, poor analogy there, probably...

Caffeine doubles miscarriage risk

Alan Potter
IT Angle

What's a woman to do?

So - this story says that caffeine "doubles miscarriage risk", but this story (http://tinyurl.com/2expoz) says that three cups of coffee a day "reduces the risk of ovarian cancer". Maybe they should drink one and a half cups of coffee?

I suppose the IT link is that they probably used Excel to calculate the probabilities.

Macworld invites kiddies to 'Make Bouncy Bouncy'

Alan Potter

Nobody expects that kind of Python quotation!

You could see it coming, really, couldn't you. In fact I think you would have been disappointed if someone hadn't replied like that.

I can't even think of another witty quote to put in now...

Former beauty queen cuffed for torturing ex

Alan Potter
Paris Hilton

IT/Paris Hilton angle?

I really, really am trying hard to see what content here has even the remotest link with IT, Paris Hilton or even the standard joke reports that you sometimes publish. Apart from the wonderful photo (Paris H without makeup, perhaps?) and the "How to Win Friends" mention which made me laugh, I don't know why you published it.

I'm sure somebody does, though...

Why Borland trashed its spreadsheet

Alan Potter

Never, ever type "Fuck off!"

I used to work at a major trading bank in London who I shall not name to protect the... well, whatever. Anyway, one of my team members used net msg (or whatever it's called) to send "Fuck off" to one of the other team members. For some reason, it took some time so he sent it again. It still didn't arrive so he sent it once more.

The reason it took some time was because he had actually broadcast it to everybody on the network, including about 200 traders. And, of course, every time the message popped up, saying "Fuck off" from xxx (or words to that effect) the recipient had to click on OK to close it. Three times...

There was an utter furore as some traders claimed that they may have lost deals because of this. I had to discipline the guy while trying to keep a straight face...

Alan Potter

Where are they now?

Okay - this isn't about fucking profanities, all right?

But along with the disappearence of PC User, I just wondered whether "Byte", "Creative Computing" and "Dr Dobbs Journal of Computer Calisthenics and Orthodontia" were still going?

I did once get picked up by a tester for putting "Oh balls, we buggered up" in some beta code. I don't think he understood the concept of beta...

MS to bundle 'broken' random number tool in Vista SP1

Alan Potter

Coolest random number generator ever


I mean, like, this is like woah, man. I mean like it's just awesum and cool and wow...

Anybody got any Mars bars? I'm starting to get the munchies...

Microsoft's sex-obsessed RoboSanta spouts filth at children

Alan Potter

Santa is a bit sanctimonious too

Type in "AIDS" when he asks what you want and he says "I take Christmas wishes from good girls and boys".

Boffins in live-monkey-brain robot weblink arms race

Alan Potter

I hope they don't depend on certain UK ISPs

I obviously won't mention any names otherwise this post will never get published, but can you imagine losing your Internet connection (which happens rather frequently) just as you're trying to get your leg over or something. And so you phone their helpdesk and have to listen to some God-awful music after you've pressed '1', '2', '1' or whatever while your legs are twitching away and your object of desire's meter is running. And then you get through to Bombay and you have to give them your bank details and your date of birth and what you had for lunch, which your OoD is busy making notes of. And then a monkey takes over (on your legs, not the phone call) and does a better job of what you were hoping to be doing.

But I think I'd better retire. I'm getting too old for all this... No coat, just that Zimmer frame, thanks...

Remembering the IBM PC

Alan Potter
IT Angle


@Grundy - WTF have those rocks to do with the PC or IT in general?

Anyway - I remember getting the first PC in the Byte Shop and wondering why IBM thought they could break into the microcomputer business. Compared to some of the CP/M business machines (Sol-20 anyone? - I've already mentioned the Cromemco and the North Star Horizon in the PET thread) it was very expensive, had a non-standard operating system (at the time!), and had limited expansion capability. But it was IBM and the Big Blue branding was very important to corporates. When I worked at Lloyds Bank there used to be a running joke - Why are London Buses red? Because if they were blue, Lloyds would buy them.

@El Reg - slightly off topic. I know, but are you going to cover the Osborne 1 (or was it 2?) you know, the one that was about as portable as an electric sewing machine and about the same shape?

Vietnamese cops jailed for death row pregnancy ruse

Alan Potter

@Charlie: A few days to get pregnant?

Yes, I know you only need one day - well a few minutes, actually. Okay, okay, a few seconds to get pregnant, but it certainly would take a damn sight longer than that for it to actually show, even if you have a pregnancy test and I don't believe they had those pee-sticks a few hundred years ago. So either these women had more than a few days to wander around before they were going to be executed or they just stuffed a cushion up their jumper and all the gullible men fell for it. It's not unknown for it to happen - even now.

As for Vietnam, it has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. But perhaps it also has the greatest number of unmarried mothers...

Remembering the Commodore PET 2001

Alan Potter

@Andy Gibson

Apart from the fact that your comment makes no reference to the Commodore Pet 2001, I think most people here are actually enjoying this discussion. Before you ask, did join the "Computer Scene" as you so eruditely put it, before 1981.

But I have this feeling that you are either (a) someone who's been made redundant recently and is feeling ill-will to any sort of merriment, or (b) the sort of project manager I hate, being a project manager myself.

I also think you mean "specifically" rather than "in general", but that's just my pedantic side coming out...

Please go and find a thread which shares your lack of humour

Alan Potter

I feel bad about continuing this thread, but...

@Anonymous coward - I think it's likely that we worked opposite each other. What's more, I then moved over the road, as it were...

If only we could communicate directly...

Alan Potter

Sorry to keep posting to this thread...

...but it fair warms the cockles of my heart - or something like that.

Anyway - I got caught bunking off on more than one occasion from the sixth form to work in the Byte Shop. Eventually I had to go and see the headmaster. He told me to stop wasting my time and that "Microcomputers are a passing fad like hula-hoops and skateboards."

He always was a visionary. I'd like to say something like "he now works for Apple" but I can't because he's dead.

Alan Potter

More about memory

But first: @IanKRolfe - It may well have been me. I wasn't the manager (I was too young) but I was trainee manager. I used to bunk off from school - Ilford County High (bloody hell, this is beginning to sound like Friends Reunited!) to work there. The manager was Vince Cohen.

I blagged my way into the shop and was hired as halfway between a shop assistant and a bouncer. Frequently I would still have my blazer on...

I really feel that, as these sad revelations are springing forth I should leave.

Yes, mine's that white one over there with sown-up sleeves that do up round the back. Thanks.

Great War diary reveals original Captain Blackadder

Alan Potter
Thumb Down

Promising book - poor interface

I first heard about this book on the Radio 4 Today programme and at the time I couldn't remember what the URL was to find it, so I am greatly endebted to El Reg for publishing the story.

I look forward to reading it, although there are a few misgivings. First, I thought I'd be able to download it as a proper ebook that I'd then be able to upload onto my PocketPC and read it on the train. Instead it is just an EXE file. I don't really want to have to sit in front of my PC and read the whole lot. Secondly, you cannot resize the app - it takes over the whole screen for some reason. Every time you load it you get a warning message from Microsoft saying that you're opening something from an unrecognised source and requires you to confirm that you wish to proceed, the software itself then requires you to enter the password every time. If you don't want to read it onscreen then you can print it - but not in an acceptable format. It's printed centred with a good 8cm margin top and bottom - a complete waste of paper.

So while I'm sure the content is going to be fascinating, the application is a disaster... And while I accept that a lot of work has gone into the creation of this publication, £9.99 still seems a little steep for an eBook. Even if 50p or whatever is going to charity.