Seeing the holes in the robotic cheese

I have recently started watching Humans. It's very good, and I'm looking for a copy of the Swedish original to compare it to, but there are some aspects that just jar me out of the suspension of disbelief.

Anita, the android that the family buy, says her processing power is about twenty petaFLOPS – twenty thousand million million floating point operations a second. That'd put her third on the current list of fastest supercomputers. But..

.. where's the evidence elsewhere that this sort of processing power is (relatively) really cheap? The cost of getting Anita's said to be about the same as a car and she has full language capabilities and excellent vision processing for example. But people are using current style computers and laptops via keyboard and mouse, and not talking to their toasters.

.. it turns out (micro spoiler) that she's quite an old model. Fourteen years old in fact. Why hasn't there been any significant advance in CPU processing power since then?

.. why's she built to do so many floating point operations in the first place? As the great Chuck Moore likes to say, robots use integers, not floating point. The real world may be analogue, but robots measure it with analogue to digital devices that have a limited resolution. Even if you're (pointlessly, in many cases) sampling audio with 24 bit resolution, you're still working with integers that easily fit in 32 bits. It's a lot easier and faster (and cheaper in terms of silicon space and power requirements) to do integer maths than floating point.

.. there have clearly been major advances not reflected elsewhere in the world – one of the biggest problems with real supercomputers is cooling them because they take a lot of electrical power, never mind Anita etc being charged for at least a day's use with a few hours plugged into a low voltage charger and not having a visible heatsink, they're not even human body temperature.

Ah yes, temperature. We know, thanks to a couple of comments, that the androids aren't anywhere near body temperature. But none of the people who kiss one comment that it's more like kissing a zombie without getting your face bitten off than kissing a human. And while the task of simulating the physical sensation of having your penis inside a vagina was solved about twenty years ago, I'm raising an eyebrow at the way that every 'female' android apparently has a self-lubricating, heated, Fleshlight equivalent. Just in case it's ever needed. Even if they do, it's still going to be a very poor simulation of one of the most requested sex acts from sex workers.

But apart from these and similar issues, it's been one of the best 'what does it mean to be human' series. Up until episode seven, anyway, where it gets a bit Lost in terms of going for something dramatic rather than credible.

Museli musings 2

Following on from my previous post on this, Aldi have been continuing to change things. This lead to at least one frightening* period when all three stores in vaguely easy reach didn't have any of the not-so-good stuff, never mind the good stuff.

To my surprise, they're now back to selling 750g packets… but in cartons that are almost the same thickness as the 1kg ones. It's at times like this that I'm glad I kept one of the old 750g cartons! Sadly, I don't have any receipts from that period, so I can't check if the price per 100g has changed, but I don't think it has.

I am now wondering what's behind this: a couple of months wasn't very long to try a marketing the new size. Was the move to 1kg a complete disaster in terms of sales?

The related** change is that their clone of Muller Light yogurt six packs have changed from being half strawberry and half raspberry and cranberry to being half strawberry and half cherry. I'm not nearly so keen on the cherry one. It's fine to have with pies etc, but not for breakfast.

Fortunately, Morrisons currently have a 12 for £3 offer on the real things – cheaper than the typical offers of a pack of 6 for £2 or two packs of 6 for £5, depending on the date – and you can pick your own flavours…

* Well, fairly scary.

** To me, anyway, because I have my museli with fruit and yogurt.

Catching another Don

The current season of ENO opened with a new production of Don Giovanni, and I gave a little 'eek' when I realised that it was nearly at the end of the run before I'd got around to arranging to see it. I have seen 'quite a few' productions before,* but it is the greatest opera ever written and each of them has shone a new light on it even if, as in the case of ENO's last but one production, it was on how not to do it.** But if I am ever allowed to direct it, it's this one I shall shamelessly steal – erm, improve – the idea of the opening from.

For those of you who haven't seen it yet, the opening features Don Giovanni being disturbed with his latest conquest, Donna Anna, by the arrival of her father, the Commendatore. The latter is killed and given how long it is since it was first performed, it shouldn't be a spoiler that this is not the last we see of him… Watching and commentating on all this is Don Giovanni's servant, Leporello.

So there are two questions that the director has to think about because they affect how we see the Don from the start. The first is how consensual is the relationship between Don Giovanni and Donna Anna. The libretto has Don Giovanni masked and one of the problems between them is that he won't tell her who he is, but is it attempted rape? The second is how accidental is the killing of the Commendatore: is it murder, manslaughter or misadventure?

During the overture, this one has a series of women walk past Don Giovanni and Leporello, stop, turn round and go through one of a series of doors with him before coming out again. I've seen others where this sort of thing has happened, including ones like this where there's also been one man in the queue of conquests. What doesn't convince me is that he doesn't do anything to pick them up: we're expected to believe that merely walking past is enough to get the stream of nine or so people into bed. It's fair to say that the role isn't performed here by Brad Pitt. The other improvement would be to have some of the people exiting the door be adjusting their clothing / having their skirt tucked into their knickers at the back or something.

I guessed that the last in the queue would be Donna Anna and indeed it was. The moment I sat up was where the set opened up and there were two rooms, one of which had the pair inside. There is some mimed negotiation and Donna Anna wants a masked man wielding a knife to 'assault' her. Even better, her father enters the other room with a woman very unlikely to be his wife who he begins to top! He hears Donna Anna's cries, enters the other room and is 'You want it? You have it' stabbed by the Don.

It fails to work with the plot – Donna Anna is supposed to only realise later that Don Giovanni is the one who's killed her father etc – but it's nearly brilliant.

What I'd do is project something like the screen of someone using Tindr etc during the overture. With a masked profile picture, the Don is going 'yes' to anything in a skirt, and ends up in text conversation with Donna Anna who says that her fantasy is… But I'd keep the Commendatore being up to some extra-marital sex in the next room.

Alas, that's the highlight. Some of the other ideas – like having Donna Anna's boyfriend, Don Ottavio, be her husband rather than just engaged to her – are pointless and contradict small bits of the plot. Some – like having the statue of the Commendatore be as unlike marble (what they're singing he is) as it's possible to be.. up until he enters the room, when he's a bit marble, but more like the resurrected body – are 'huh?' Another of the latter is the number of doors people go through for no very good reason. Some ideas – like having Don Giovanni attempt to seduce a servant over the phone rather than by standing underneath her window*** – are mostly harmless, but serve to raise a question or two. The call's made from a phone box with a rotary dial, so when is this set?

The final idea – having Don Giovanni escape Hell by sending Leporello in his place – is something I've never seen before, is sort of in character, but only works here in terms of explaining WTF someone looking like Leporello's clone has been pointedly wandering through the scenes throughout: he just replaces Leporello as the servant and it's back to the opening corridor and its stream of walking past, stopping, and… It could work, perhaps, but my favourite ending is still that of the Francesca Zambello production for the ROH, where we see a naked Don in Hell, carrying an equally naked woman.****

The set design – a series of greys and drab olive (taken from tank camouflage paint tins?) – is uninspiring and the rest of the design isn't up to much either, with the exception of having Leporello look like Michael Caine. The English translation is also ok rather than great.

But you could close your eyes and listen to this one, and I'm very glad to have seen it.

Two more performances: Monday and Wednesday. I'd bought a 'secret ticket' – you pay £20 and only find out where you're seated the day before. I'd guessed that it having been at the Tkts booth in Leicester Square for £30 meant that it was likely to be a good seat rather than up in the balcony, and ended up in the middle of the fourth row of the dress circle, normal price £125.

* A quick count says about twelve 'live in theatre' ones, some of which were seen more than once, plus a couple of 'live from..' satellite broadcasts and at least half a dozen on DVD.

** Normally, if the production is badly directed and designed, you can shut your eyes and listen, but even the singing was poor in this one.

*** Best line from any 'outside the window' production was one in the mid-90s: 'This worked quicker at Kensington Palace…' Now Princess Diana is long dead but we've another woman PM, you could have 'Downing Street'.

**** This was the production I paid HOW MUCH to see live and was definitely worth the money. Sky Arts were showing it at one point and it's also available on DVD.

Time and place

I can remember seeing my mother's School Certificate exam papers – this was the forerunner to O-Levels, except that you had to pass six papers including English and maths in order to get a certificate, rather than getting a separate English, Maths etc pass.*

The paper I particularly remember was the Arithmetic one (there was another one for other aspects of maths) where a typical question went something like 'The Atlantic Ocean is (so many miles, furlongs, chains, yards, feet, and inches) across, and the RMS Queen Mary crosses it in (so many days, hours, minutes, and seconds). Find her average speed.'

This is the intro to saying that another old exam paper has been found. In 1960, L's father took The Chartered Institute of Secretaries (Southern African division) Intermediate Accountancy exam. Question 2, the second of the three compulsory questions, was about the XYZ Lawn Tennis Club. Amongst the things people answering the question had to take into account was..

Two natives are employed by the Club, one to attend to the courts at a wage of £4 per week, the other to serve tea and minerals at a wage of £1 per week.

!!!

It's notable that the sale of those drinks is losing the club money: they're spending £106 annually to buy them in and only getting £149 from selling them… despite the way that the stocks on hand are worth £6. Whatever else the members are, they're rubbish at running a viable refreshments service.

Amongst the other striking aspects is that the women members pay a smaller annual subscription than the men (£4 vs £6, but that's still a month's wages for the person serving drinks…)

* If your six included a foreign language, you got a pass acceptable to universities. That would have been me stuffed then.

Scratching an itch

The pause in posting here has been caused by Antiyoy. It's a simple turn-based strategy game where you use armies and forts to conquer (and hold) an island made up of hexagons against assorted other players.

A peasant unit can capture undefended land. Combine two of those and you get a spearman, who can conquer land defended by a peasant or a capital city. Add another peasant and you get a knight, who can conquer land defended by spearmen or towers. Add a final peasant and you get a baron, who can conquer knights. But – as with modern business – the latter require 27 times the pay of mere peasants, and if you run out of money all the people in your territory disappear. So you have to have plenty of money-generating land before you can dream of having knights.. and the towers that are proof against anything less are much cheaper.

It's been scratching the Empire: Wargame of the Century itch very happily for the past few days. It looks like I've been playing that for, erm, twenty eight years, and it runs very well on a desktop's DOSBox but doesn't work well on a tablet's one. (There is an Android port of the Empire Deluxe sequel, but it doesn't work very well on a tablet either – both really want a mouse.)

I thought Antiyoy was a polished game, and it turns out that this isn't surprising: it's an utter clone of Slay, which has been around in one form or another since 1989, the year after EWotC.

Fortunately, I've now got through the seventy level 'campaign' and the latest change to the program – starting the one-off games with lots of neutral territory – simply doesn't work well at all. So you might well see some more posts soon…

.. unless there's a sale on the Android port of Slay.

Do the wardrobe shuffle

Yesterday was spent shuffling furniture about. From a house that's being cleared came seven dining chairs, a dressing table, a small table and some garden furniture. Out went six not very comfortable dining chairs and a cheap chest of drawers. That was fairly simple, although the existing – borderline unsafe – gardening furniture is still here. Whether it'll end up as a pile of decaying wood in the garden for insects or at the recycling centre, I don't know, but having seen some stag beetles in London, it'd be nice to see some here.

A friend down the road got two disassembled wardrobes and a chest of drawers. That involved moving out a chest of drawers and a sort of coffee table sized chest of drawers from one room, then moving an existing wardrobe and chest of drawers from another room into the first room, and leaving assorted bits to assemble in the second room.

Someone's garage now has the 'out' furniture, plus a couple of other things from the cleared house, including a writing desk and a tall rusty metal storage thing that may end up going to London somehow.

Now 'all' that needed to happen was assembling the wardrobes. These are Stag flat pack designs from the 1960s. It was interesting to see that some basic ideas are still used in IKEA etc stuff today. The person who'd broken them down hadn't taken photos of the process of doing that, but helpfully labelled which bit was from which and suggested that I do the simple one first. That might have been sensible except that they'd broken, either in taking them apart or in transport, one critical bit of the base of the more complicated one. A metal combination screw and 'secure this end' part hadn't been removed from the base where it was supposed to hold the middle vertical 'wall' and had broken the base, fortunately at the underneath side.

Fortunately, again, the two bases were identical – presumably it saved money only having one design – so it was possible to use the simple one with its intact screw holes instead. Having started, it seemed a sensible idea to continue with the more complicated one.

Which went fine up until the back. As with many IKEA ones, this uses some thin hardboard with a wood-coloured veneer on one side as the back. With much flat pack furniture, this can't be one sheet of the correct size or the packing box would be too big. So you get it in two or three pieces and join them together. Tape or nails is the current way, depending on whether there's something to nail it to or not. The sides are typically in groves of the real walls.

But for some reason – part of which only became clear later, instead of doing the sensible thing and having two vertical pieces, each roughly the size of one of the doors, it has four horizontal pieces, one smaller than the other. Attempting to stack them on one another failed, even with some duct tape, but then it was then that the use for some odd bits became clear: four bits of woodish stuff, the length the width of the wardrobe but otherwise quite small. And with a grove in two sides. Ah ha, these go on top of one bit of hardboard and hold it in place while proving the base for the next bit. Ah ha2, they have some thing that can be screwed into the sides, behind the hardboard, to keep it all fairly rigid too.

Which would have been great, except that only one of the two screws on the first of the three bars was anywhere near the right place. The other end was too high. There's a limit to how much you can hammer the side of hardboard to get it to go down (it breaks the hardboard if you're not careful!) and no amount of pushing it would get it to the right position. So of course the next layer starts too high, neither screw fits, and you end up not being able to get the top / roof wall on.

It was at this point that I gave up until the new owner came home.

When she did, we decided to do without all but the first bit of hardboard, but just use their support bars instead. I for one have always said that wardrobes shouldn't have a back.* The metal bits that hold the roof on aren't screwed in, so you have to get them just right for them to drop into the holes in the sides. Which isn't easy, given that the roof is much thicker and is the second heaviest bit of the whole thing. Get it wrong, and they drop to either side and then you've got to lift the whole thing again, usually taking the connectors that did get in their holes out and have to do them again too.

Repeat, several times, possibly breaking the base – the middle wall did bend over more than it should have done at one point, until it works.

The doors were almost simple, but there's a lot of work in the almost. You can see where modern door hanging designs come from, but the subtle changes since the 60s mean they are notably better for rehanging doors. These almost properly fit – but do close! – and it's not clear how you would adjust things so they do fit properly. About the only thing I can think of is start again, making sure that everything that is supposed to be a right angle is exactly 90 degrees.

Having done that one, it was going to be much simpler to do the simple (no middle wall) one. And it was! It did have a fixed top shelf that the first one didn't and this was the reason for having horizontal hardboard bits for the back: instead of having the back 'behind' the shelf, the top shelf has the top and bottom grooves for the hardboard. This probably also explains the asymmetrical sizes of the pieces of the hardboard – because you could choose to have this shelf, the last bit had to be the vertical size of the space left underneath the top shelf because that makes the maker's life easier in terms of stock control. As with the base unit, you then only need to have one sort of back.

This time, the three larger bits of hardboard fit (with a little hammering…) and it's only missing a back on the top shelf – there was no way you want the top to slot into that and have the annoying connectors fit too. If it had been lighter, perhaps, but not this lump.

The result worked perfectly in terms of its doors and is a tribute to the quality of the original design. It looks horrid to my eyes, but its new owner is seriously into retro stuff and loves it.

Except that she wanted it on the other side of the room. Push, shove, push. No, it's too big there (it blocked part of the window). One reason for wanting it there is that she wasn't convinced they'd be enough space to open the doors fully because of the bed. But.. push, shove, push.. yes there was. I thought there would be, just, having had a play with an unattached door earlier.

After that, the chest of drawers was simple…

* How else are you going to get to Narnia if they do?

Getting the rules wrong

Yesterday, someone found out they'd been playing a favourite board game wrongly / 'not according to the printed rules'. In this case, the missed rule makes a better game and the judgement involved is half the skill in something that has a lot of luck already.

But lots of people ignore rules. Few people play Monopoly without adding some variant or other, usually making it a worse game* by increasing the money supply or reducing limits on houses or.. Even the current rights owners have been guilty of that, including by adding another die to make it easier to land on squares you want to land on / easier to avoid ones you don't.

I've been taught games wrongly – the classic example was the game where the owner had missed that each turn you could do only one of four things and thought you could do all four, every turn. The game didn't last long…

Some people make a fortune out of it: Othello is Reversi with a restriction saying you have to start with one of two opening positions. Somehow, the Japanese patent office granted a patent on it anyway and the 'inventor' cleaned up.

Some games are improved by tweaks. I think one favourite has one mechanism, a favourite of the designer, too many and so do without it.

What's your missed / ignored / improved rule story?

* Feel free to substitute 'an even worse'…

Printers I have known

Teletype – when I was one of the small group doing a Computer Science O-level, we had to go to the local FE college who were just starting to teach it. They didn't actually have a computer for us to use, but they did have a Teletype with a connection to the Open University. You wrote your BASIC program on the Teletype, and a leased line to the OU enabled it to run. When, not if, the program didn't work. I can't remember how we edited it (some extremely simple line editor or just over writing lines by entering a new line 100 or whatever?) but you could also get the Teletype to save it onto paper tape for fast – something like ten characters a second! – upload next time.

I don't think I have any of the paper tape, but there's at least one printed program somewhere.

Some dot matrix – after a month or so, the college got the bill for the leased line, went 'HOW MUCH?!?' and decided that getting a Research Machines 380Z would save money, even at over £3k for the version with 8" floppy discs.* Plus at least another thousand for a dot matrix printer, because it wouldn't work with the Teletype properly.

I can't remember what it was, but it could do 132 characters on a line which rules out the next one. I do have a couple of printouts from it though, including a program that simulated radioactive decay by turning a rectangle of asterisks into dots over several passes – my first encounter with e, after I noticed that if my little asterisk's half life wasn't 'one' loop, doing the obvious calculation** didn't work properly – and two games. Doubtless someone somewhere could look at them and go, 'ah, a Centronics..'

Epson FX-80 – I'm quite surprised that WP doesn't have a page on this, even though it gets a mention on the dot matrix printer one, because to those of us of a certain age, it's iconic. I didn't own it – they were about £700 around 1981 – but my university department had several because they were so (relatively) cheap. They also ended up with some MX-80s that could do graphics (not very well, but even so..)

Some line printer – dot matrix printers print a vertical slice of a character at a time, a typewriter prints a character at a time, and a line printer does, gasp, a whole line of text at a time. As this is done by 80 or 132 or more little hammers hitting the paper and something solid at the same time, five or more times a second, they're quite noisy. I SAID THEY'RE QUITE NOISY! Consequently, it was kept in another room under a noise insulating cover, and we only got the results.***

ZX Printer – the first one I bought, £49.95. That was the end of the good news. Narrow and nasty and needing special paper (about a fiver a roll) it worked by having an electrical spark burn off a layer of aluminium from the paper to reveal the black paper underneath.

You tell the young people of today that, and they don't believe you.****

I do have a couple of printouts from it, but the printer and some paper got donated to the computing museum at Bletchley.

Tandy / Radio Shack plotter – in one sense, another bonkers design: a small cartridge held four tiny pen-like ink cartridges. By moving it and the paper in the right way, you drew lines on the 15cm or so wide paper. Draw the right lines and you've got text! I think it was in a sale to the point it was cheaper than an inkjet and did colour that meant I got one.

Some OKI 24-pin dot matrix – not mine, but the person I worked with for many years. They paid £1,500 for it, the same cost as their Zenith 8088 PC clone running at 8MHz, so almost twice as fast as a real IBM PC. The reason for the price tag was that unlike the FX-80 et al which created their characters with a maximum of nine dots per vertical line, this used up to twenty four. Some of the 9-pin printers could bodge this by printing each line three times, moving the paper very slightly each time, and calling the result 'near letter quality' (i.e. as good as a typewriter) but it never was.

Neither was this, but it was over three times faster. The design meant you could also reuse the ribbons quite easily too. I can't remember what eventually failed on it.

Citizen Swift 24 – another 24 pin dot matrix, got largely because of the price (£200ish??) and the way we didn't need the width of the OKI. Only used by me with DOS, Windows XP had printer drivers for it.

Canon BJ-10 – the first inkjet I used. These were neat – a bit shorter than a ream of A4 paper lying down, but otherwise more or less the same size, they were virtually silent and did produce high quality results. As a result, when it died it was replaced by a..

Canon BJ-10e – slightly better version. I think this was the one that had a lovely tall but narrow bold font that was perfect for printing speeches on. It also died after about 18 months.

HP Deskjet 500 – Going back to an older machine! Bought second-hand off cix, this wasn't as neat, but was much more reliable. The quality wasn't great and inkjets are expensive to run, so..

HP Laserjet 6P – the first laser printer for the office in question. Alas, this was after the marketing people took over HP. The print quality was very good – some very nice brochures for a potential Millennium Commission project were done on it – but who thought it was a good idea to have the paper intake be a dust and crap magnet at the top of the printer? Most of the rest was plastic rather than metal too.

Panasonic KX P4420 – I recognise it, and I wrote a printer driver for my word processor (Borland's Sprint) for it, but I can't remember if it was the replacement for the LJ6P or if it replaced the LJ IIs of the LibDem by-election team.

Minolta SP101 – back to my ones. Many laser printers of the early 90s had 512kiB of RAM. While that was plenty to print text and small images, it wasn't enough to do a whole page image at 300 dots per inch resolution This one did some compression of the image data, so it could. You could also 'easily' fit some more RAM but the Minolta sales person at the show I bought it at gave the wrong info so I ended up buying the wrong chips at first.*****

Even so, this is what the London Bisexual Group newsletters and other stuff were printed on for my years as its Hon Secretary.

HP LaserJet Series II and Series III – I've written about these before. As they went out of fashion, they became dead cheap while staying extraordinarily versatile thanks to an host of companies doing add-on stuff for it.

Dell laser printer – I can't remember which. I can remember getting it from a Freecycle event in Forest Hill c2010 and being pleasantly surprised it worked. When the LJ III stopped picking up paper reliably and the usual cures involving sand paper didn't work, it got replaced by this. The speed – about 16 pages a minute – was nice, but it failed to pick up paper after a couple of years and nothing I did could get it working properly. The first printer I had that used USB rather than a parallel port.

Brother HL-2250DN – the current one, bought for £85 in 2013. Does duplex and has a Ethernet port as well as USB so it's shared with everything here. Replaced in Brother's line by something slightly faster but more expensive, grr, but it's showing no sign of going worng.

* I'm sure I've told the story of breaking it by putting a floppy in the wrong way up. They were very nice about it…

** If the half-life is say three ticks rather than one, then 1/6 – a third of a half – must die each time, yes? No!

*** Several hundred compiler errors ending with 'Missing ; in line 3137' usually, indicating that you'd left one out somewhere in the preceding three thousand or so lines.

**** I've just tried.

***** Every cloud has a silver lining: the 256kiB chips ended up expanding a sound card, the lovely Gravis Ultrasound, the sound card to play DOOM with.

It was the best cow I've seen..

.. in Into The Woods, anyway. I don't know how I missed seeing while booking that JA's and my tickets were on the second row from the front, rather than the back. They must have been returns, and huge thanks to the unknown people who didn't want them.

The show itself was excellent, with only a few problems. With eleven people on stage, including someone mostly there as a pianist, it was slightly undercast in terms of numbers: Cinderella's prince was doubling as one of her stepsisters, for example! There's also no real narrator – that was shared – which leads to a problem avoided by cutting a bit out. But all of them were good, especially the person being a cow, and it was the second best second act of any of the, erm, nine productions I've seen.

Speaking of which, another highlight was that the family to one side of us had only seen the abomination that's the film version, and so were a bit surprised at how many people are killed off in the second half of this one, even if it's lower than it should be.

Sunday was [title of show] which is on until next Sunday. Smaller still, it's the story of the creation of itself… As such, there's an element of wondering how real some bits are. Alas, I didn't have any doubts about the realism of the way the two gay men writing it were noticeably giving themselves much better bits than they give the two women.

Oh, is that the time?

Earlier this week, Amazon finally had a cheap copy of a book I've been after for a while – the Haynes Owners' Workshop Manual for the Panzerkampfwagen VI, otherwise known as the Tiger Tank. It arrived just before I left for the weekend. If you're interested in the subject, it's a fascinating read: I started at about 9pm and went 'Oh..' at after midnight.

As far as the 'owners' bit of the title goes, the equivalent Haynes book on the Spitfire says something like 'forget owning one to fly unless you've a million quid to spare'. This one just says 'forget it': only six of the just over thirteen hundred made survive even vaguely intact.* But it is written by the owners of the only one restored to running order, The Tank Museum in Bovington, Dorset.

Hmm, it's been at least five years since I visited.** Hmm, Tiger Day or Tankfest next year?

Typically, the Daily Fail's article on the book gets lots of things wrong in its historical picture 'German Tiger Tank on road in Normandy in Northern France during the Second World War'. As any fule kno that's the Panzerkampfwagen VII, aka the Tiger II. And there are two of them. And, to me at least, both of them are by the side of the road…

* Not that stops assorted people offering one for sale. One bunch sent photos of a model to prove they had one…

** I spent the first day of the second OpenCon there as it was nearby. I think that was 2011. The previous visit was just after I'd leant to drive, so early 2002. The one before that was as a child, when they still let you clamber all over everything!