* Posts by Mike Richards

3702 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

WikiLeaks fights The Man by, er, publishing ordinary people's personal information

Mike Richards

Re: Whew that was a close one

The word aluminum has been around since 1807 when Sir Humphrey Davy proposed it as a replacement for his previous attempt of alumium.

Both aluminium and aluminum were used in the US but I'm was preferred from 1820 when Websters dictionary used it as the acceptable American spelling. By the time aluminium became a common material, um was already the fashion in America.

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Web meltdown: BT feels heat from angry punters

Mike Richards

Re: A small number of our customers MAY be experiencing...

Glad to see it's not just me who sees the red mist with this sort of wording. It doesn't matter if it is a small number of customers, for those customers it is a complete loss of service.

PlusNet has been having occasional lie-downs in a dark room with a damp cloth over its forehead for a week or so now. Again, the mysterious power issue might be causing some problems for a small number of customers (which always seems to include me). The falling over seems to have started round about the time they told me my bill would be increasing to pay 22 tattooed millionaires to kick a ball around on a TV channel I don't watch.

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UK gov says new Home Sec will have powers to ban end-to-end encryption

Mike Richards

Re: Wow

'Half makes you wonder if someone in the government thinks that a flesh covered metal man could come back in time to prevent a future global war from being stopped.'

Such a hypothesis would go a long way towards explaining our new Prime Minister.

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Mike Richards

I still can't work out

If Home Office ministers are pathologically stupid when it comes to technology, or;

If Home Office ministers are pathologically deaf when it comes to technology.

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Shocker: Computer science graduate wins a top UK political job

Mike Richards

Re: "But admirably his was one of the few voices raised against 90-day detention "

Clearly this man cannot be allowed anywhere near the Home Office where data interception and retention must be pursued with the Blunkettian zeal of the truly ignorant.

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Blighty will have a whopping 24 F-35B jets by 2023 – MoD minister

Mike Richards

Re: sub-launched nuclear armed cruise missiles

Couldn't we just ask Israel for a quick look at the nuclear-tipped cruise missiles they almost certainly (don't) have?

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Mike Richards

'Why have a fleet of expensive manned aircraft when you can have drones for a fraction of the price and not risk the lives of the pilots'

Translated into BAe-speak 'Why have a fleet of expensive manned aircraft when you can have drones at twice the price and not risk the lives of the lobbyists'

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Wannabe Prime Minister Andrea Leadsom thinks all websites should be rated – just like movies

Mike Richards

I guess if you can work through the Bible without blinking at its insane contradictions, and, despite all the evidence in the Old Testament, still think him upstairs is a kind and benevolent god, you're just about credulous enough to believe in UK party politics.

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Mike Richards

Re: Andrea Leadsom...

'To me they both look like worthy successors to one of the greatest female leaders this country has ever had.'

Which one? Mary I?

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Dell confirms price rise post Brexit vote as UK pound stumbles

Mike Richards

Re: Prediction

It's okay, the Brexiters have told us the devaluation is good for British exporters so I'll just switch to a British designed and built computer - like... like... - I'll get back to you on that.

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Boffins boggle, baffled by blobs deep inside the Earth

Mike Richards

Something doesn't add up here

The report says the blobs are denser than the surrounding Mantle, but also they transmit seismic waves slowly. But seismic waves travel *faster* in denser materials - that's how geophysicists calculate their density.

I suspect something has gone missing between the research and the press release.

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PM resigns as Britain votes to leave EU

Mike Richards

And Scilly!

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Mike Richards

Re: RE: Nigel Farage...

On the upside - Farage will now have to find a job, and it might shock him to find out he'll have to turn up to get paid.

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Mike Richards

Re: We all know what happened

Well the financial experts will have decamped to Frankfurt so we're probably left with the hipsters.

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Patriotic Brits rush into streets to celebrate… National Cream Tea Day

Mike Richards

An issue that bitterly divides the country

Jam first then cream.

Don't be a Devonian heathen.

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TalkTalk CEO Dido Harding pockets £2.8m

Mike Richards

Incentive

I can only assume Dido's incentive payment is paid by TalkTalk's rivals who must be delighted to keep her where she is.

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Lester Haines: RIP

Mike Richards

I am so gutted by this news. I never got to meet Lester, but we regularly exchanged emails and he was every bit as funny, spiky and blindingly quick witted as his articles. He made me laugh - and for that thank-you.

I can't imagine what his family are going through right now to lose someone so young, but there are thousands of people who want to thank them for sharing him with us.

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Patent trolls, innovation and Brexit: What the FT won't tell you

Mike Richards

Re: So why is Brexit the answer?

It didn't help that British fishermen crashed the fishing stocks long before the CFP (otherwise why would British boats be just off Icelandic beaches?) and then sold their quotas to Spanish fishermen.

The problem with fishing is nothing to do with the EU and everything to do with fishermen refusing to stop fishing until they have emptied the seas.

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Users fear yet another hack as TalkTalk services go down

Mike Richards

Re: Ummmmm

I'll have you know that the damp piece of string that connects TalkTalk's secure databases to the rest of the world is extremely sensitive to weather conditions.

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Wales gives anti-vaping Blockleiters a Big Red Panic Button

Mike Richards

Re: Strange Sign

Victorian era flour was much more likely to be bulked out with chalk or alum than lead. Lead chromate was sometimes used to add colour to adulterated mustard and high concentrations of lead were found in some cheap wines and cider to mask sour flavours from improper fermentation and storage.

Some creepy details of just how widespread food adulteration was before regulations were put in place here:

http://www.victorianlondon.org/publications4/strange-25.htm

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Fresh hell for TalkTalk customers: TeamView trap unleashed

Mike Richards

Re: Bilderberg

Perhaps Dido's making the calls to try and recoup some of TalkTalk's losses?

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Chinese space station 'out of control', will do best firework impression

Mike Richards

Re: Typical problem when you don't have all the data

Blue Streak used a Rolls Royce licensed copy of a RocketDyne engine, so there is probably an unbroken heritage back to the V2.

Britain's experiments with the kerosene and pure hydrogen peroxide Gamma engine were pretty unique in the postwar era - although a lot of the early research into hydrogen peroxide did come from captured German aerospace data. Those engines eventually powered the Black Knight suborbital rockets and the Black Arrow which put Prospero into orbit.

As for the ESA rocket being based on Blue Streak - not very likely, the first four models of Ariane used storable propellants and variations of the Viking engine which is based on the Diamond N2O4/UDMH rocket that put the Astérix satellite into orbit in 1965.

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Mike Richards

Re: Typical problem when you don't have all the data

Von Braun was heavily influenced by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's design for staged liquid rockets; his heavily annotated copy of Tsiolkovsky was found in his office at Peenemünde. Tsiolkovsky was also the inspiration for both Korolev and Glushko.

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Mike Richards

Re: Before

Nice post.

The plan was for the second Shuttle mission STS-2 to fly in late 1979 carrying a booster to Skylab and place it into a storage orbit.

Following that a 1982 Shuttle mission would rendezvous with Skylab and start the process of restoring it to habitability. Then from 1984 onwards missions would start expanding Skylab's power systems, replace the solar panels and renovate the computer systems. Missions would last 30-90 days apiece and continue to use the big Apollo Telescope Mount to study the Sun.

The final part of the plan was to start expanding Skylab so it could take up to eight astronauts. The European SpaceLab would have formed part of the new station as well as the Shuttle's External Tank.

As it turned out, the Shuttle didn't fly until early 1981 by which time they were still scraping bits of Skylab off of the outback.

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Surveillance forestalls more 'draconian' police powers – William Hague

Mike Richards

Well one thing is clear

William Hague's understanding of encryption is everything you'd expect from a biographer of Pitt the Younger.

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Mars One puts 100 Red Planet corpses colonists through fresh tests

Mike Richards

'And then we'll just be watching a pile of corpses millions of miles away'

A bit like tuning into BBC News then?

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King Tut's iron dagger of extraterrestrial origin

Mike Richards

His actual intended tomb is probably WV23 which was taken by his successor Ay who ruled for 2-4 years. Tutankhamen's tomb looks like one of the occasional noble tombs that were permitted in the Valley of the Kings - most famously that of Tjuya and Yuya who were the parents of Queen Tiye, Tutankhamen's grandmother and possibly of Ay.

Under Ay's rule, Tutankhamen and his relatives were beginning to be whitewashed from history and it does look like Tutankhamen's burial was a house clearing of all of the Armana period. Ay also used the death of Tutankhamen to legalise his claim to the throne by having himself depicted as pharaoh on the tomb paintings performing the 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony that conferred eternal life on Tutankhamen. He was in short, a total bastard.

Some of the items in the tomb are labelled for Akhenaten and the very shadowy pharaoh Smenkare Djeser Khepheru who was either Tutankhamun's predecessor or his predecessor but one, whilst other items have been relabelled for Tutankhamen - most distinctly, his second coffin which has a different face to the others.

The complete obliteration of Tutankhamen's record came under the following pharaoh Horemheb, also not from the legal succession, who simply extended the rule of Amenhotep III to cover the reigns of Akhenaten, Smenkhare, Neferneferuaten (which might be the throne name of Nefertiti), Tutankhamen and (some measure of justice) Ay. Horemheb had the worship of the Aten banned, demolished its temples and spent his reign carving his name over the rather beautiful sculptures that went up during Tutankhamen's reign.

And yes, go to the Cairo Museum and be amazed. The new museum is almost ready and there will finally be space to see some of the exquisite works. The material from the Old Kingdom - especially the sculpture is simply mind blowing. But if you can't get that far, visit the Egyptian collection in Berlin to see the incredible work being done during the brief Armana Period prior to Tutankhamen's reign - the bust of Nefertiti is worth the air fare alone.

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Mike Richards

Re: It's an interesting bit of enconomics

The Egyptians didn't understand the smelting and forging techniques of iron - in part because both fuel and high quality ore are absent in Egypt. Instead they relied on the Hittite kingdom for supplies of forged metal. Relations between the two civilisations were strained through the 18th Dynasty of Tutankhamen* and were only really put on a firm foundation after Rameses II lost/won the Battle of Kadesh in the following Dynasty. Once the Hittites and Egypt formed the first known diplomatic alliance, supplies of iron ore started flowing into Egypt and local smelting took place, but the lack of fuel meant that bronze was still widespread right up to the end of Egyptian civilisation.

* There is a fascinating letter written to Suppiluliuma, King of the Hittites by Ankhesenamun - widow of Tutankhamen in which she pleads for him to send one of his sons to become pharaoh of Egypt (Tutankhamen had no living descendants) rather than her be forced to marry a commoner who would then take the throne. The prince was sent, but was murdered en route, Ankhesenamun disappears and one of the great villains of Egyptian history, Ay, seizes power.

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Swiss effectively disappear Alps: World's largest tunnel opens

Mike Richards

There's got to be a joke here

A 'Catholic priest, a pastor, a rabbi and an imam walk into a tunnel...'

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Norks' parade rocket fails to fly, again

Mike Richards

If (error) {

Execute(all)

}

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Earth's core is younger than its crust surface

Mike Richards

Re: Quite a large pachyderm in the room

'the materials from the crust mix with the cores due to these interactions at the the magma-core boundary which is why there are heavy elements for us to mine in the crust.'

Not the case. Heavy elements such as uranium and thorium become concentrated in the Crust because they are incompatible with mineral structures in the Mantle (they're called lithophilic in older books) which means they are concentrated in melts when the Mantle undergoes partial melting . Low density melts rise up towards the surface, undergo fractional crystallisation which further concentrates heavy elements in the continental crust. Some elements, such as gold and the other platinum metals are described as siderophilic because they are relatively soluble in molten iron which meant they were preferentially drawn to the Core during its separation from the silicate bulk of the Earth.

There's conflicting evidence of whether subducting plates get to the Core Mantle boundary - most become invisible around 600-700km in a region where there's a detachment in the Mantle. The Farallon Plate does seem to go very deep, albeit very diffuse as it merges with the surrounding Mantle. There's pretty much no evidence in magmas derived from deep-seated Mantle plumes of any Core material coming back up, a huge density difference between the lowermost Mantle and Outer Core prevents transfer of material.

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Mike Richards

Re: A bit off?

Material doesn't really leave the Core. As well s the Inner Core being a giant ballbearing of solid iron/nickel alloy, there's also a profound density difference across the Core Mantle boundary which means that convection can't take place.

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NASA firms up Space Launch System nanosat manifest

Mike Richards

Re: 20kg payload on a 90,000kg rocket to nowhere.

It's not for nothing that SLS is often called the Senate Launch System - it has kept a lot of pork going to vulnerable congressional districts for the last few years.

A much better Senate Launch System might be one that puts both houses into orbit.

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Shakes on a plane: How dangerous is turbulence?

Mike Richards

Re: Betteridge's law of headlines.

For anyone who hasn't stumbled on it, Patrick Smith's 'Ask the Pilot' blog is well worth a follow. He's a trained pilot who knows his stuff - and I can also recommend his book of the same name as a present for anyone who is scared of flying:

http://www.askthepilot.com

Here's his take on turbulence:

http://www.askthepilot.com/questionanswers/turbulence/

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Mike Richards

Re: AAIB reports are freely available

I can recommend the entirely soothing audio book of Michael Crichton's 'Airframe' for long haul flights.

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Inside Electric Mountain: Britain's biggest rechargeable battery

Mike Richards

It's like another age - Goonhilly - gone, Devonport - still there but much smaller, the hot rocks at Rosemanowes - gone (well at least the rocks are still there). I had to check that Plessy was still with us - apparently so.

But the brewery is still there.

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Mike Richards

CEGB

I wonder what our energy industry would look like today if the wanton vandalism of dismantling the foresighted CEGB had never happened?

Ah lovely Dinorwig, I recall endless episodes of Blue Peter visiting it when it was under construction, and realising this was a. very. big. thing. indeed.

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Russia poised to unleash 'Son of Satan' ICBM

Mike Richards

Re: Two steps forward...

'Middle East has been a total screw up since the demise of the Ottoman Empire'

Some would say since Moses got chatty with a bit of shrubbery, but I take your point.

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Investigatory Powers Bill: As supported by world's most controlling men

Mike Richards

Has anyone ever checked what sort of chemicals capable of inducing moderate to full-blown Blunkett levels of tyranny and paranoia are being piped into the Home Office water supply?

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Brit polar vessel christened RRS Sir David Attenborough

Mike Richards

We might have dodged a bullet...

Imagine if things go horribly wrong. I doubt that any BBC Radio 4 newscaster could get through the sentence ‘Thousands are feared dead and an environmental catastrophe looms after a collision between an ocean liner and the science vessel RRS Boaty McBoatface off of the Antarctic Peninsula’ without breaking down weeping with laughter.

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India trumpets seventh navigation sat launch

Mike Richards

Re: @Lester Haines Wonder how much they charge...

The US currently has a ban on American commercial satellites flying on Indian rockets. Ostensibly it's there because the Indian Space Agency is government owned and the Americans claim its launch costs are subsidised and distort the market. This also affects European satellites containing American components that are launched on Indian rockets.

It's a real problem for small American satellites as the US doesn't have many rockets designed for small payloads. SpaceX used to have the Falcon 1, but that has been retired in favour of the much larger 9, and the few companies that do have small rockets such as Minotaur and Pegasus aren't competitive against the PSLV.

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Mike Richards

Re: I'm no rocket scientist

IIRC India didn't have a reliable, powerful liquid engine for the first stage, but their ICBM programme had given them plenty of experience of building big solid engines, so that made sense for the first stage - which is the third largest solid motor ever fired after the Shuttle SRB and the Ariane V boosters. The second needs to be less powerful and more controllable, so they could use their moderately powerful liquid Vikas engine which is derived from the original Ariane 1 motor.

I'm not sure why they then stick another solid on top of that. But they do need a more controllable liquid engine to put satellites into orbit.

India has now mastered big liquid engines and cryogenic engines for the GSLV Mark 2 and Mark 3 respectively, so I'd imagine the PSLV solid-liquid-solid-liquid sandwich won't be repeated.

I bet it makes an amazing noise though - one day I'll see a rocket launch. The Reg should open a travel tentacle for us space nerds.

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Ireland's tech sector fears fallout of Brexit 'Yes' vote

Mike Richards

There is a period (I think it's 15 years) during which expats can still vote in the referendum. Beyond that period, the courts have ruled that they are ineligible.

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First rocket finally departs Russia's Vostochny cosmodrome

Mike Richards

Re: Great pictures.

I've always loved the four elegant swing arms that release the rocket. Before launch they gently squeeze inwards holding the rocket upright, but once there's enough thrust for the rocket to begin pushing upwards, they relax their grip and counterweights pull them away from the rocket so it can fly free. No need for explosive bolts and complicated electronics.

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Mike Richards

Re: Not something America could do

The US has less need of a new launch centre, Kennedy/Canaveral are huge, well to the south of any Russian site and well sited in case you need to drop something into the ocean as well as receiving rockets by road, rail and barge.

The Vandenberg Shuttle pad was scrapped following the Challenger explosion when the USAF successfully lobbied to move all national security payloads to the Titan IV. Challenger also put pay to the extremely lightweight filament wound SRBs that would have been required to put a payload into polar orbit. With no booster and no payload, there was no need for a Shuttle pad at Vandenberg.

And the US is currently building a new launch centre near Brownsville, TX where Falcon 9 and Falcon 9 Heavies will be flying from late 2017

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Mike Richards

Re: Location?

Further south and on the coast might mean dropping spent stages on Japan - not a good thing.

Russia's Energia Group is also the majority owner of Sea Launch which was putting Zenit payloads into space from a floating platform on the equator, but that seems to be defunct following the Russian invasion of Ukraine where Zenit is constructed.

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El Reg Quid-A-Day Nosh Posse spared chickpea ordeal

Mike Richards

Two words

Liposuction

and

Biodiesel

But good luck with the diet/rewiring/wedding/turbo - just say 'I do' to the right person and don't promise to give everything that's yours to the electrician (although it often ends up that way).

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Ten years in the clink, file-sharing monsters! (If UK govt gets its way)

Mike Richards

Holidays

Anyone know if the Baroness has recently had a lovely holiday on David Geffen's yacht? Mandelson got one and came over all Digital Economy Act shortly afterwards.

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What's wrong with the Daily Mail buying Yahoo?

Mike Richards

Daily Mail buying Yahoo!

Means that it'll own Tumblr from which it gets most of its 'content' - so they will have cut out the middle man.

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Flying Spaghetti Monster is not God, rules mortal judge

Mike Richards

The problem with the idea of a 'parody religion'

Is finding ones that aren't.

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