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Comments

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A Truckload of OAuth Issues That Would Make Any Author Quit

History's Coming To Last Post (86 comments)

That's it, I've had enough. It's easy enough to filter this kind of crap out, but /. just don't seem to bother. Yes, I could simply browse at a higher level, but I've usually got mod points and browse at -1 as suggested for very good reasons. But if /. aren't prepared to deal with the most basic levels of spamming then I can't be bothered helping them out any more. Email address deleted, password changed to a long random string that I don't know, sig changed to indicate account has been deleted. Bye everyone, most of the last decade or so has been fun, but frankly, I quit.

about a year and a half ago
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Most UK GPs Have Prescribed Placebos

History's Coming To Re:Antibiotic Placebo? (240 comments)

The pressures are generally quite the opposite under the NHS. It's generally a brilliant service, considering it's free to us (you could argue the tax angle, but frankly we'd still be paying the same taxes if the NHS was abolished, which the current government is trying to do in England and Wales).

The main pressure on doctors is getting through their long daily list of patients as quickly as they can, and they get their fair share of people who have self-limiting conditions - it's very common for somebody to turn up with a cold (eg a virus) demanding antibiotics, and a rushed doctor may simply find it easier to give them what they're asking for and send them on their way, rather than spend an hour trying to educate the patient, another hour calling in a colleague to give a second (identical) opinion, then dealing with calls from the local MP and patient pressure groups because they "tried to fob off a genuinely sick patient".

Which is why we now have massive problems with multi-resistant bacteria. It's a shoddy state of affairs, and the British public are just as much to blame as the doctors who gave in to their whinging because it was the only way to get them out of the surgery so they could see the child with suspected meningitis.

about a year and a half ago
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Possible Cyber Attack Against South Korean Banks and TV Stations

History's Coming To Re:prelude to what the west can expect from china (80 comments)

If this was company X (Windows) and company Y (Linux) we'd be laughing at X and saying they should be following company Y's example.

about a year and a half ago
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Researcher: Hackers Can Jam Traffic By Manipulating Real-Time Traffic Data

History's Coming To Re:Nothing new (102 comments)

I've seen traffic lights in the UK fall back on flashing yellows - this was at around 2am in Edinburgh city centre, so traffic was moderate and it was mostly taxis (pubs and clubs kick out between midnight and 3am), it didn't seem to cause any problems at all. The driver commented that it actually seemed to be an improvement.

To cause a real gridlock doing this you have to assume everybody is using the same source of data, and only that one. Most traffic control systems also use mechanical detectors, car-spotting cameras and the like, you'd need to hack all of these systems to guarantee a gridlock.

about a year and a half ago
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CCTV Hack Takes Casino For $33 Million

History's Coming To Re:Turnabout is fair play. (308 comments)

How can they tell? Because you're winning - and also because of your betting patterns. The original MIT Bringing Down The House guys got rumbled fairly quickly because of their betting patterns, so they switched to using a low-stakes gambler to do the counting who would continue to lose when the odds were in his/her favour, and they would discretely signal an accomplice to come in and bet big when this happened.

These days casinos combat it by using multiple decks of cards in a shoe which are changed before they've run through enough of them to give a good statistical idea of the remaining contents.

about a year and a half ago
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CCTV Hack Takes Casino For $33 Million

History's Coming To Re:Turnabout is fair play. (308 comments)

Casinos operate within things called laws. Yes, they have a mathematical edge in the long run, but this is a known factor (and in the UK at least, the long term odds have to be published). What these people did is illegal, meaning it breaks those laws (specifically, the ones about using a "device" to assist you - eg you can count cards if you want, that's perfectly OK, but you can't use a smartphone app to do it). Nobody is forced to go to casinos, and if anybody is seriously surprised that the odds favour the house then they probably shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a table on the grounds that they don't have sufficient mental faculties to understand what they're doing.

about a year and a half ago
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For 2012's U.S. tax season ...

History's Coming To Re:tax dodgers (526 comments)

Britons are from Great Britain, the main island comprising England, Scotland and Wales. The British Isles is a geographical term meaning Great Britain, the main Irish (Eire & NI) landmass, plus all the little islands. Being from the British Isles does not give a specific nationality (as being from "America" does not convey your actual citizenship of the USA, Canada, Mexico, Brazil etc). You could probably call an Irish person a "British Islander", it's a technically correct term, but you'll piss them off in the process.

about a year and a half ago
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Growing Consensus: The Higgs Boson Exists

History's Coming To Re:Not all Mass (254 comments)

Yes, but in a different way. Nothing with positive mass can travel at-or-faster-than c. Things without mass (photons, basically) must travel at exactly c. There's also wriggle room for things with negative mass, tachyons, which must travel faster than c.

about a year and a half ago
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Growing Consensus: The Higgs Boson Exists

History's Coming To Re:Not all Mass (254 comments)

OK, I'll be slightly clearer: Assuming that the equations of relativity are an accurate reflection of how our universe works, nothing with positive mass can travel at c or faster. That's a pretty unambiguous version.

about a year and a half ago
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Growing Consensus: The Higgs Boson Exists

History's Coming To Re:Not all Mass (254 comments)

No - you'd need to decrease the mass of the spaceship to zero to do that, relativity and the speed of light limit applies to any object with mass, no matter how small. What you might be able to do is reduce the mass to get closer to the speed of light, but you still can't break it.

about a year and a half ago
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Growing Consensus: The Higgs Boson Exists

History's Coming To Re:Adjusting mass (254 comments)

The Higgs field is what give particles mass (in part anyway), the Higgs Boson is an excitation in this field, so the actual discovery is the Higgs field via finding the associated particle. If we are able to manipulate the Higgs field (which is currently all in the realms of SF speculation) then yes, we might be able to change the mass of particles in one way or another, but I don't expect to see inertial dampeners or anything similar in the next few decades. I'd be quite happy to be proven wrong, but it's unlikely.

about a year and a half ago
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Defcad.com Wants To Be the Google of 3D-Printable Guns

History's Coming To Re:uh oh (225 comments)

Frankly, yes. He won't particularly care. North Korea, including "reservists" has the biggest standing army on the planet, three times bigger than the US military if you measure it in the number of soldiers.

Lack of access to guns isn't what's keeping the North Korean people in check, proof positive that a right to bear arms isn't a utopian solution to a dictatorial government.

about a year and a half ago
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Facebook Knows If You're Gay, Use Drugs, Or Are a Republican

History's Coming To Re:Knows and Presumes are not the same thing (473 comments)

Exactly. That's the point. I'm not. Algorithms can believe whatever they want, but they're still based on naive, broad-ranging stereotypes. It gets worse - to take an example from the article, I'm also a fan of musical theatre, but somehow not gay....wonder how that works?

about a year and a half ago
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Facebook Knows If You're Gay, Use Drugs, Or Are a Republican

History's Coming To Re:Knows and Presumes are not the same thing (473 comments)

Thanks to somebody signing up using the wrong email address (mine) internet advertising seems convinced that I'm looking for a long term relationship with a woman between 50 and 65 in the English midlands. Suits me, it saves a whole lot of suspicious looks from my 30ish girlfriend in the Scottish Highlands. I never even hit the confirm registration button. Honestly.

I also regularly search for terms on terms in Qu'ranic Islam (I'm an atheist but find it interesting) and nuclear technology (I'm a physics geek and that's one of my "things".)

The solution as far as I can see is to have really wide ranging interests.

about a year and a half ago
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Seattle Bar Owner Bans Google Glass, In Advance

History's Coming To Re:Hidden (471 comments)

This is why I want to see Google Hat. Google Glass, but with 19th Century rules on when to remove your hat. (Forget the bit about doffing your hat to ladies though, that could be seen as a cheap cleavage shot).

about a year and a half ago
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

History's Coming To Re:Too little, too late (259 comments)

No, I sent them a pro forma letter requesting the information and asking them to send it, or to get back to me if there was an associated fee. I had to chase them a month later, but I got it, without any fee.

about a year and a half ago
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

History's Coming To Re:Too little, too late (259 comments)

Nice to know the employees are treated well. Any chance of asking them to do the same for their customers?

about a year and a half ago
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EA Offering Free Game to Users After SimCity Launch Problems

History's Coming To Re:Too little, too late (259 comments)

This is why I've simply decided not to buy another EA game. Battlefield 3 was the final straw for me - 3 downloads of around 2Gb each in the first three months? Any you have to download them to continue to play online? And the patches required are only a few Mb and the rest is DLC which you have to download whether you want to pay to have it activated or not?

To top it all, when I tried to contact them to see if patch-only downloads were available (I'm on a slow connection that 6Gb of downloads would swamp) I was told I didn't have the right date of birth. I ended up having to use the UK Data Protection Act to get hold of my account details, and sure enough my DOB was correct. The data also included "customer offered 15% discount" - which was news to me.

I give up , I'm simply not going to buy another £40 coaster from them, I have enough of those.

about a year and a half ago
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Global Temperatures Are Close To 11,000-Year Peak

History's Coming To Re:Clear bias against the oil industry (416 comments)

Because demand for oil will drop as we switch to non-fossil fuels like fission, fusion or (heaven forbid) wind/wave/tidal/solar? Because they have to keep the shareholders happy, which isn't necessarily correlated with any kind of foresight or long-term common sense? Because it's all about money, rather than preserving the environment which makes the concept of money possible? I don't know, I'm as mystified as you.

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

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Diaspora* Announces It Is Now A "Community Project"

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  about 2 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "Decentralised social network startup Diaspora* announced on their blog today that they will become a "community project" with the intention of making it an entirely community-driven, community-run project.

Whether this is a sign of the project losing impetus, or whether this will provide the push needed to challenge commercially run social networks remains to be seen.


* If you're looking for the footnote there isn't one**, the asterisk is part of the name. Sorry, it's been a point of annoyance on /. before.

** There are two of them, nested."

Link to Original Source
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Scottish Council Stops Child Photographing School Dinner

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 2 years ago

History's Coming To writes "A Scottish primary school child under the pseudonym "Veg" has been blogging about school meals, including a photograph and comments on the nutritional value, taste and presentation. Veg has developing a worldwide following, with children from all over the world sending in pictures of their meals. The school and Veg's father have been fully supportive throughout. But Veg has been taken out of class by the head teacher and told to stop taking photos because Argyll & Bute Council (who control the school) don't like the publicity it is generating."
Link to Original Source
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Steve Jobs Resigns As Apple CEO

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  about 3 years ago

History's Coming To writes "Steve Jobs has resigned as CEO of Apple. In a short letter he stated "I have always said if there ever came a day when I could no longer meet my duties and expectations as Apple’s CEO, I would be the first to let you know. Unfortunately, that day has come." He requested that he retain a position as Chairman and director, and suggested his interim replacement Tim Cook as the new CEO, an appointment that Apple has now confirmed."
Link to Original Source
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Japanese Pop Star Revealed As CG Composite

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 3 years ago

History's Coming To writes "Japanese pop fans are reportedly shocked to discover that Eguchi Aimi of pop group AKB48 doesn't exist. In fact, she's a computer generated composite of the other six members of the all-girl group. Motion captured elements of the human members have been pasted together to create a new band member — publicity stunt as it is, it's still quite impressive, and the band have released a "create your own composite" app. (via @qikipedia on Twitter)"
Link to Original Source
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Stuart Clark talks astronomy, heresy, biscuits.

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 3 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "As a sideline to being a science buyer for a bookshop I run an independent blog that lets me spout off about books I like and (hopefully) be seen as impartial. I recently reviewed Stuart Clark's new book, The Sky's Dark Labyrinth , a fictional account of Tycho, Kepler, Galileo and a bit of a fuss involving the nature of the heavens.

He's been good enough to give me an interview where he answers a few questions about the science/religion debate, theories of everything, and Galileo's favourite biscuits."

Link to Original Source
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UK Politician Arrested Over Twitter "Stoning Joke"

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 3 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "The BBC is reporting that a Tory city councillor has been arrested over a "joke" he posted to Twitter suggesting that Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, a UK based writer, be stoned to death. The full tweet read "Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really.". Following complaints he was arrested under the Communications Act 2003 and bailed. He has since apologised. This comes on the same day that a conviction for a Twitter "joke" about blowing up an airport was upheld."
Link to Original Source
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UK conviction over Twitter terrorism 'joke' upheld

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 3 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "A UK court has upheld a conviction handed down to Paul Chambers, a 27 year old accountant who posted a tweet reading "Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!". He claimed on appeal that it was clearly intended as a joke and should not have been taken seriously. The court disagreed, the appeal being dismissed on all counts and the original fine of £1000 standing."
Link to Original Source
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Refactoring Song Lyrics

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 3 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "This truly is idle — in fact I think it's even a contender for a IgNobel award. I was recently inspired to write a short PHP script which generated the lyrics to Jim Steinman's cult hit "Total Eclipse Of The Heart". I managed a 22.4% saving based on characters and no whitespace. I'm sure this can be done better than my amateurish attempts though, and more interestingly, what's the most compressible classic rock ballad out there?"
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Fermilab May Have Found Higgs Boson

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 4 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "Tommaso Dorigo, a physicist working on projects at both CERN and Fermilab has posted a strong suggestion that the decades old Tevatron accelerator in the US has pipped the European LHC to the post when it comes to the Higgs boson. The signal shows a three-sigma effect according to at least one of his sources, meaning there's a 0.3% chance that it's an experimental error. If true, the readings would indicate a Higgs mass of around 115-140GeV, very much at the lighter end of the theoretical range.
It's all highly speculative at present, with Dorigo himself admitting: "keeping particle physics in the press with hints of possible discoveries that later die out is more important than speaking loud and clear once in ten years, when a groundbreaking discovery is actually really made, and keeping silent the rest of the time.""

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ScienceBlogs.com Facing Writer Mutiny over PepsiCo

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 4 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "Several writers for the ScienceBlogs.com collective have Publicly resigned from the site, and many more have voiced concerns over parent company Seed's decision to include a paid blog under the nutrition category from PepsiCo. The blog is written by PepsiCo food scientists, detailing their work. The UK's Guardian newspaper has picked up on the story, and includes a letter from Seed editor Adam Bly which covers the company's rationale. Troy McClure has been quoted as saying "Now, turn to the next problem. If you have three Pepsis and drink one, how much more refreshed are you? You, the redhead in the Chicago school system?"."
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Odd Titles Award - Collectable Lethal Crochet

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 4 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "Following hot on the heels of the weirdest named scientific paper is the Bookseller's annual Diagram Odd Titles Award. Contesting it this year are:

The Changing World of Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Collectible Spoons of the 3rd Reich

Crocheting Adventures with Hyperbolic Planes

Governing Lethal Behavior in Autonomous Robots

What Kind of Bean is this Chihuahua?

Afterthoughts of a Worm Hunter


Personally, my vote is with Crochet, my full reasons being listed here: http://coolsciencebooks.blogspot.com/"

Link to Original Source
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xkcd To Be Released In Book Form

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  about 5 years ago

History's Coming To writes "xkcd creator Randall Munroe has revealed on his blag that the acclaimed stick figure comic will be produced in real dead-tree book form. Fantastic news for all fans of comedy, maths, science and relationship screw-ups, especially given that the book will be sold in aid of charity "Room To Read". Rumours that the book contains an joke in the ISBN remain unconfirmed."
Link to Original Source
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Scots astronomers test Martian meteorite theories

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 6 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "Scientists from the University of Aberdeen are inspecting a small lump of rock from a quarry in Orkney for signs that life carried on metorites could survive re-entry. The BBC reports that the organic-rich rock was attached to the side of the ESA's Foton M3 and has recently been recovered."
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Lawyer Realises The Bleeding Obvious

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 7 years ago

History's Coming To (1059484) writes "A lawyer in the UK recently quit after making the shock discovery that the business is not all about ethics and helping people and making lots of money....oh no...

"it is all about ego, money and soulless, ruthless commercialism and exploitation"

I shouldn't laugh. Really, I shouldn't. Really....."

Link to Original Source

Journals

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The PiSBN Project

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 3 years ago Oh, I'm so sorry. I know I'm in the company of fellow geeks, and I know you'll all understand why I did this...

But yes, there's really no excuse other than "It was there".

I searched Pi for ISBN numbers. I've got the first three within the first four million decimal places. There's a biotech/environmental engineering paper from Finland in first place, a gothic germanic fairy tale in second, and a conspiratorially hidden English surgeon's story taking the bronze. I reckon it's all quite cool.

Full details on my blog and source code to follow soon...

Sorry again....

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Evil evil evil DRM evil evil patents evil and spam.

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 5 years ago

DRM evil!
Software patents evil!
Anything that isn't open source and written in Perl v1 evil!

Come on people, get a grip. There are many wonderful open source projects out there, hell, the machine I'm typing this on is running entirely on open source software and I like it that way, but why on earth does that mean that everyone should follow suit?

Why is DRM evil? Musicians, for example, have every right to apply DRM to their own work if they so wish - of course it's very often applied by the company who have bought the rights to the work, bu that's how some musicians get paid....you know, money for instruments and food and rent and the like. And some musicians don't apply DRM so their work gets a larger base of fans. It's up to them and that's the point...since when was taking a persons rights away from them considered to be 'free-er'?

Software patents are slightly trickier area. Take this example: I work in a bookshop and we spend a fair amount of our time sat in front of a spreadsheet typing in an ISBN, then title, author, publisher and price....repeat ad nauseum. It's time consuming, so I hacked together a little program in php that takes a barcode-scanned list of ISBNs and extracts the rest of the information from our company website and puts it all into a spreadsheet format - very handy indeed.
So what is patentable there? Well none of the code per-se, it's just the standard use of php. But what about the concept of extracting ISBN information? Nope, been done, both the concept (see: Amazon et al) and the method (screen scraping). I can't even patent the concept of using a program to extract information from a website. That's called the Internet, it exists. Remember, you can't patent stuff that is already in the public domain or the "blindingly obvious".

The fuzzy object that is the "open source community" is in fact terrified by restrictions like this for no good reason - we've developed our own, very effective, FUD campaign.

Getting a software patent is in fact tremendously difficult. You have to come up with something entirely novel in some way, and that's difficult when it comes to code....effectively pure logic. It's comparable with developing a new piece of mathematics, it's the result of saying "If X and Y then Z" where X and Y have never been compared before and Z is an entirely new result in the field; patentable software is effectively a new scientific discovery and should be treated as such. That's why companies employ people to come up with the ideas. You know, jobs and money and the like. See "musicians" and "food", above. It's also why there are huge groups of people doing the same for free, it's a satisfying intellectual hobby for many. But again, since when was removing somebody's right to take the money someone else is offering "free-er"? Just because people are willing to do something for free doesn't give them the moral high ground and the ability to *dictate* what others can and can't do with their skills. If you want something to be available for free, invent it yourself and give it away. It's not difficult....except the inventing bit.

So is that the way forward? Treating software like any other scientific discovery? When Einstein came up with SR it was very much a case of taking X (speed of light being invariable) and Y (speed = distance/time) and coming up with a new Z (SR), so it was without a doubt new and novel. So what did he do? He released it to the wider community for verification and (importantly), credit. You can't patent scientific concepts as Einstein well knew, what with working in a patent office and all.

So, in fact, software patents are very difficult to get and are unlikely to affect anyone's freedom do do anything other than ask "why didn't I think of that?". If you want to beat the patent process then get inventing, invent as much as you can, and make sure it's out there in the public domain. Comms satellites can't be patented because they were accurately described by Clarke many years before we launched one. We just need lots of Clarkes. What if we don't patent a good idea and somebody get their first? Then we should have spent more time inventing and a little less time whining about the unfairness of the world. The world's unfair, get over it. There's better things to be doing than whining.

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{a href="Hyperlinks"}

History's Coming To History's Coming To writes  |  more than 5 years ago We've lost sight of what the internet is for.

That deserves a +5 Insightful I reckon ;)

OK, I'll be more specific. We've lost sight of one of the big, original reasons that the World Wide Web was set up for. In fact, it's almost a defining reason. People keep trying to patent it, and everyone gets upset and says you can't patent something so obvious. But back in the day it wasn't obvious. It really did get invented, I kid you not.

I'm talking, of course, about Hyperlinks. Yup, I'm capitalising them as well, because they deserve it. Hyperlinks are probably, computers and very long tubes aside, one of the most important inventions in the development of what we now know as the interweb. Without Hyperlinks there is no web. There's just a huge collection of files, nothing more than a glorified FTP network. But it's the Hyperlinks that join them, that bind them together. Hyperlinks, especially the obscure ones, are what make "surfing" possible, they're the reason you can go from Slashdot to Bonsai Kittens to Scunthorpe local parish newsletter to hotbabewithchainsaws.com

I've not checked, but I bet you can.

They're what turns a disparate group of computers, each with a shared folder full of specialist info, into a modern-day network. And it's a Small World network at that, thanks to the minority of wonderfully esoteric links.

So Hyperlinks Good. The original idea was to make referencing documents really easy (hence "href", Hyper Reference). But that's not what they're used for these days. Advertising has come along and smeared its corporate logos across a great many pages, and (to be fair) funded a lot of these pages too. But it means that page owners are now really trying to stop you from leaving their site, or if you do, making sure that you go to another site that is offering them a PPM kickback. They certainly don't want to link you directly to what you're looking for, a plain old text document with no adverts whatsoever.

History's Coming To Get Us...

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