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Incidentally ...

I am in warm, sunny Detroit (at least, it's warm and sunny compared to the UK right now), with a mild throat infection and jet lag on top. Our luggage should even catch up with us in the next half hour. (We allowed 80 minutes for our connection in Paris, which would have been fine if our flight from Edinburgh hadn't been delayed on the taxiway for an hour waiting for a landing slot to open up at the other end. Paris really doesn't handle snow well. Luckily our onward flight was also running late, so we made a mad dash across Terminal 2E at Charles de Gaulle. Alas, our luggage wasn't so agile.)

Anyway, I now have mobile broadband, or something like it ...

Admittedly, there are phone contracts and phone contracts. And reading the small print on the contract for the pre-paid data SIM I bought was a wee bit traumatic until I figured out what was going on ....

when printers go wrong

(Why, oh why, can't somebody do for laser printers what Apple did for smartphones? Namely throw out the accumulated decades of lore about how the user interface should work and invent something for human beings?)

Anyway. ConFusion starts tomorrow, and hopefully my throat won't get any worse. And who knows? I may even find something to blog about.

44 Comments

1:

OK I'll bite, to start the ball rolling - wtf DID happen with the print-out?

& I thought luggage was not allowed on to a flight without it's humans so to speak?
Pterry's Luggage being excepted, of course....

2:

Clearly a cthonic ritual invoking nameless horrors if you exceed your allotted data consumption.

3:

I think I just picked up a small dose of K-syndrome trying to parse that..

4:

If you're happier when people fly with their luggage, you should be similarly happy when people *believe* they are flying with their luggage and still board the plane. That luggage is then "blessed" to the same standard you normally accept, so putting it on another flight shouldn't be an issue.

5:

Once luggage has been checked in by a human (and that human's boarding pass has been scanned at the gate--I assume), it's on it's own.

6:

I'll put you out of your misery: it was a printer problem. They power cycled the laser printer, tried again, and it emitted a perfectly legible (for values of mobile phone contract legibility) contract.

I kept that one as a souvenir.

The luggage accompanied us on our first flight sector, and simply failed to make a planned connection. Under such circumstances the airline security experts take a much more relaxed view of unaccompanied luggage than if, say, the humans hadn't flown with the bags in the first place (as happened on a certain Air India 747 in the 80s).

Intentionally unaccompanied bags may be a bomb attempt. Unintentionally unaccompanied bags are just cargo.

7:

Ah, the "Voynich Receipt"...

8:

I'm not sure how Apple would help, Steve Jobs once tried to get Adobe to let him use Postscript as a display system. Imagine the fun that that would cause.

9:

I hope the throat gets better soon and that the pain isn't too bad.

10:
Steve Jobs once tried to get Adobe to let him use Postscript as a display system.
What do you mean, tried? That's what NeXTStep used for its windowing system. It was called Display Postscript. For MacOS X's Quartz, they did something similar: they took the PDF object model and turned it into an API.
11:

You shouldn't have pointed it out. Clearly it's nonsense. Had you just signed it the clerk would have probably given you the device in return for your signature on a meaningless contract. If it ever got to court a judge would probably have ignored the nonsense contract, but would not have been able to apply the standard contract it should have been. It would have been all about the verbal agreement.

Or maybe you would have been legally bound to e!up!bo!jorvn the juv!epn.

As long as you are in Detroit, I saw something on television (John Stewart, I think) about the bridge to Canada. All these groups in Detroit were up in arms about it, including The Black Panthers and various trade unions, claiming it would cost too much and the one old existing toll bridge was still good. But as it turns out, the one bridge there is PRIVATELY owned and the owner was behind all the resistance to the new bridge which the Canadians were building FOR FREE.

12:

Glad to have you in the detroit area, hope you have fun!

13:

Oh, you didn't know? A BOFH at HP convinced the engineers to add an easter-egg to randomly ROT13 printouts that mention certain members of the Scary Devil Monastery.
Apparently, code reuse and industrial espionage propagated it far beyond its intended scope...

14:

See also Sony NEWS and Solaris 2.3 onwards...

15:

Is this a Russian document printed with a non-Cyrillic font?

I considered a fault where one bit of the ISO-Latin-1 code set was stuck at a value, but that doesn't fit the data.

16:

It's simply added one to the ASCII code of each letter. Never seen an issue like that on a printer before.

If there's sensitive information in the plaintext, you may want to take it down or obscure it!

17:

I've had something much like that happen printing PDF files to an HP OfficeJet that power-cycling didn't cure: It'd be fine on screen, mind-bending horror on paper. In that case it was probably something not quite right in the PDF file... although if the on-screen reader could cope, so should the print driver.

18:

Intentionally unaccompanied bags may be a bomb attempt. Unintentionally unaccompanied bags are just cargo.

And the IT to support such things is a real mess. It was grafted onto existing system where the design of such a function was never considered. And is a big reason bags miss an initial connection if you're not at the airport early enough. Or your flight is delayed. Ground crews really hate it when they have to crawl back into the hold looking for a bag or bags when someone checks in at the curb but for whatever reason doesn't board the flight.

19:

Given you are visiting an event called ConFusion this seems weirdly appropriate. That said that's the weirdest printer glitch I have seen.

20:

I can confirm bartoncasey's decryption scheme -- you paid $50 for one of the things on this receipt. There is a small amount of credit card information on there, which you may care to black out.

21:

Nothing terribly sensitive, but yes, smudge tool now applied.

22:

Too late! Expect some interesting and bulky things to arrive in the post, paid for with your wjtb card :)

23:

Like a robotic cat?

24:

Urgh. Memories long suppressed rumble to life. I'll have nightmares tonight. "What has it got on its stackses, hmmm?"

Could be worse. I could be packaged in a thin aluminum tube, thrown like a dart at strange foreign places on a map, places where they think beer should be bright yellow...

25:

paquette.mj @ 24
Bright Yellow beer?
Like THIS do you mean, from O'Hanlans of Exeter ...
Nothing wrong with it, at all!

26:

Charlie already has a real (if elderly) feline overlord; why would he want a cyborg one?

27:

Ot there's this http://www.brewpalace.com/BeerDetails.asp?DrillValue=318 , which is not only a decent pint, but also sold in a Liebour pub near my Mum's house, much to the delight of the local SNP, who regularly go in and say "Can I have Independence please?"

28:

Who did you get service from? I've got to go to the States next week (Puerto Rico, actually, so probably all bets are off). T-Mobile seemed to have a decent prepaid data plan, last time I checked.

29:

paws
@ 27
To which the reply is...
"Certainly sir, where would you like it inserted?"

30:

"Leibour" refers to the main clientele, not the staff.

31:

"As long as you are in Detroit, I saw something on television (John Stewart, I think) about the bridge to Canada. All these groups in Detroit were up in arms about it, including The Black Panthers and various trade unions, claiming it would cost too much and the one old existing toll bridge was still good. But as it turns out, the one bridge there is PRIVATELY owned and the owner was behind all the resistance to the new bridge which the Canadians were building FOR FREE."

A bilionaire owns the existing bridge, and has waged a multi- decade war to keep another from being built. The 'movement' was as astroturfed as can be.

32:

If the bridge in Detroit is as you say & the billionaire's involvement is now public knowledge, why is the new bridge construcy=tion not going ahead - given that light & information usually squashes corrupt deals like this.
As the US non-healthcare scam will hopefully, now collapse in the next few years ....

33:

Detroit used to be the home of the Stroh Brewery, probably the USA's best macrobrewery ("fire brewed", or fire-burnt; a bit different from the usual). That is long gone, though. Stroh's is currently canned by Pabst, the holding company for a variety of defunct American beer brands.

What they currently can as Stroh's Beer is a bright yellow American-style lager. I suppose it has it's fans.

34:

"If the bridge in Detroit is as you say & the billionaire's involvement is now public knowledge, why is the new bridge construcy=tion not going ahead - given that light & information usually squashes corrupt deals like this.
As the US non-healthcare scam will hopefully, now collapse in the next few years ...."

It probably will bebuilt. OTOH, I think that you are confusing the USA with a non-kleptocracy.

35:

Because it's not a single man blocking everything. It's his whole family and they've been all working at blocking for a long time, entrenching themselves in the Detroit community.

You could call it a family business, or the family trade.

They also have the advantage of opposing "furriners". They're pitting every possible variety of extremely local interests against the intrusion of furriners.

That's how the entire US is organised. Unless military objectives are invoked very local interests trump any broader interest.

36:

Earlier comment got eaten ...
Google for "Detroit Windsor Bridge" & y'all find that the billionare crook (as described in one article) appears to have lost, completely, & that the bridge is now going to be built.

37:

Sorry about the comment eating - we had an outage of the underlying database that require restarting (and by Charlie). As you will realise, it's now back.

38:

@ 37
Thought so - got a VERY peculiar "can't read your sign-in & nyaaah!" computer-generated load of cobblers.
Thanks

39:

Has anyone seen this?

http://www.jimchines.com/2013/01/group-cover-pose-reveal/

And this:

http://www.jimchines.com/Pics/Marys%20Angels.jpg

Oh, my.

So this is what you get up to away from home, Mr Stross?

By the by, I routed through to the pics from Scalzi's site.

40:

Yes! And I wish they could take the next step and make a science fiction calendar with monthly pics like these.

41:

Since Charlie hasn't had time to blog yet, you'll have to be satisfied with this.

Immortal ConFusion was fun, and Charlie did a great job reading two lengthy excerpts from upcoming books, one of them a Laundry novel. It was a treat listening to him read in a rather small room; if you get a chance to hear him, you should. Except for one coughing attack that would have stopped most of us, he was fine. We really appreciated him soldiering on.

[Note to Charlie's publisher: the fen are not happy about the fact that a Laundry novel is being held hostage for 16 months. In what century do you hope to achieve financial success? The chapters I heard sound terrific, the book is done, I'm ebook-ready - what's your problem?]

He held up his end on various panels as well; his explanation of how to achieve success in sf writing while steering clear of IP peoblems was fascinating and appreciated.

Geoff Landis was also great, giving talks on space craft and whether or not we should all escape the population explosion into space while we have the chance.

I really enjoyed the panel discussions on whether or not ebooks are a good thing, or not, as well as how Kick starter can be used by authors.

42:

You know, I saw the book, the Poul Anderson Flandry stories, in a public library. My thought was a) I couldn't possibly take this out b) if the contents reflected the cover I couldn't be bothered anyway.

So I'm all in favour of the campaign. But for me these covers serve as a useful warding away device.

As I said to a local second hand book owner about my choice of books, "Does it have a spaceship on the cover?"

43:

That should be 'book shop owner'

44:

I've been musing on just how this could happen, and I think it could be caused by a single bit error. If there's an array of glyphs to use, and the elements of that table are 32-bit pointers, then if you flip bit 2 in the pointer that addresses the start of the table, you'll be picking up the glyph one along from the one you should have done.

Everything else stays the same, including the font metrics, which accounts for the displayed 'h' characters (should have been 'i') tending to overrun their neighbours.

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