* Posts by Mike Richards

3595 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Viewsonic 22in Android 'tablet' hands-on review

Mike Richards

22" tablet

Presumably the 22" phone will follow?

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Fanboi beats 'e-trespassing' rap after using GPS to find stolen iPad

Mike Richards

Re: Odd system

'and since you can't be prosecuted for something you did before it was illegal...'

Yes you can. The UK has created a number of so-called ex post facto laws including the 1991 War Crimes Act and various bits of taxation law to crack down on tax avoidance schemes. Technically the European Convention on Human Rights forbids ex post facto *criminal* laws, but some of Britain's brightest legal brains (notably Lord Denning) have said the Convention is overridden by Parliamentary Supremacy.

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Pasty munchers scoff at £300m council deal with comms kingpins

Mike Richards

Re: It's think it's very refreshing

'Coincidentally does their IT planning bod have a name like 'Nostradamus' ?'

Merlin surely?

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UK ice boffin: 'Arctic melt equivalent to 20 years of CO2'

Mike Richards

Re: More self-agrandizing nonesense

' Germany is opening coal plants, Spain is cutting subsidies to solar power.'

Germany is increasing its coal-fired electricity production because it is closing down its nuclear fleet and Spain is cutting subsidies to solar because its economy is - technical term approaching - fucked. Neither of these decisions have anything to do with the evidence in climate change.

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Mike Richards

'Surely the Arctic was warmer a thousand years ago when Scandinavians settled in Greenland to farm?'

The Norse didn't settle the Arctic areas of Greenland, only the very margins in the far south.

But to answer your question - the settlement was from about 980CE into an environment slightly cooler than modern Greenland, and cooling from its maximum. Even at the best it was a lousy climate and the Norse only really survived because they could import materials from Norway, Iceland and (briefly) North America. Their agricultural economy was taken from their experience of Norway and Iceland - marginal pasture and hay to see their animals through the winters. As the climate cooled the growing season collapsed and they followed it into extinction.

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Why is the iPhone so successful? 'Cause people love 'em

Mike Richards

Alternatively

That so many people are prepared to jump to the new iPhone suggests they're happy to keep buying Apple products.

And that's their choice, personally I dumped iPhone because they've all been mediocre phones with poor reception and call quality.

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Amazon pitches cheap new Kindles for Blighty

Mike Richards

Re: Sulk

Yep, disappointed here too.

At a guess - supply of the larger Fire and the Paperwhite are going to be limited for a few months and Amazon are concentrating on their home market. Hopefully they'll get round to remembering us before long.

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Sony Vaio 11 Duo hybrid PC hands on review

Mike Richards

One thing you can be sure of

Judging by the prices of their netbookalikes, Sony is going to give this an insane price which will guarantee it'll disappear almost without trace.

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Elon Musk says he's planning a 'supersonic, electric hover jetplane'

Mike Richards

Re: Iron man 2

Hopefully we won't have to wait long for Elon Musk to unveil his crime-fighting super suit.

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Ten 15in notebooks for under 400 quid

Mike Richards

Re: Backs and second hand laptops

Another vote here for a reconditioned Thinkpad as the ideal school/uni-on-a-budget machine. Best keyboard by far and it'll survive being thrown in a bag.

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Leaked Genius Bar manual shows Apple's smooth seductions

Mike Richards

Re: Breaking news: Stores teach employees to sell stuff

Finding out that Apple wants customers to think they care only deepens the mystery of why Apple Retail is run by the ex-head of Dixons.

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Low sunspot activity linked to rivers freezing: Mini Ice Age on way?

Mike Richards

Re: News?

The Thames certainly did freeze during that period and no longer does, but much of that is down to the manmade changes to the lower river. The old London bridge caused the river to pool upstream. When it was replaced, water could flow more freely and was less likely to freeze. Likewise, the construction of the two embankments confined the river to a narrower channel which prevents freezing.

This study has one shortcoming, they've chosen one river. If they can repeat the trial with another - such as the Danube or the Elbe then the results will be much more significant.

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Curiosity rover hijacked by will.i.am to debut science song

Mike Richards

Re: Jeez, what next?

What the author of the piece hasn't told you is that will.i.am has given several million dollars to science, technology and maths education in deprived areas of the US and UK. Whether you like his music (come on someone must) or not is a lot of money going to kids who need all the help they can.

http://iamangelfoundation.org/

Yes it's publicity for him, but if it means some kid might get a better education I'm all for it.

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Arctic ice shrinks to ‘smallest in satellite era’ - NASA

Mike Richards

Re: Question is, what caused it.

A stats team from Reading have just published work on human versus natural contributions to Arctic melting. They estimate 30% of melting is down to long term natural cycles in the Arctic, 70% from human emissions. Summary, video and links to the article here:

http://www.reading.ac.uk/news-and-events/releases/PR457684.aspx

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New nuclear fuel source would power human race until 5000AD

Mike Richards

Quick political question

Will this energy be available to everyone?

Say - Iran and North Korea?

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Mike Richards

Re: Thorium rocks

Actually the biggest roadblock is economic. Making the numbers add up for fission has eluded pretty much everyone so far unless they can externalise most of the costs on to the taxpayer.

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LOHAN turns up the heat on Vulture 2 motor

Mike Richards

How much heat is in a nice cup of tea?

That'd be the proper boffin way to keep things warm.

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NASA gets funding for Mars InSight mission in 2016

Mike Richards

Re: Anyone else...

Pedants refer to Martian geology as areology.

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Mike Richards

Re: Impressively deep and *fast*

'but can anyone really infer anything about the temperature of Mars' core from that?'

It is fairly shallow, but doable. Land-based heat flow measurements here on Earth are usually done below 200-300m to screen out surface effects. Most marine heat flow measurements are taken at around 5m below the surface. The huge amount of water on top helps even out any surface effects.

Some work has been done on modelling heat flows on Mars and whilst this mission's results will be affected by seasonal changes in heat flowing from the Sun, the effects are both minor and can be factored out over a prolonged period of study. There's some detail here:

http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/lpsc2012/pdf/1382.pdf

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Cloud engineering could SAVE HUMANITY, suggests boffin

Mike Richards

Salter clouds

Stephen Salter, Graham Sortino and John Latham proposed fleets of specially designed ships to do just this about 5 years ago.

http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/366/1882/3989.full

and

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotor_Ship

No fuel required.

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Anonymous takes down UK government websites in Assange attack

Mike Richards

'Yesterday Assange addressed supporters from the embassy, looking not a little like Graham Chapman in Life of Brian.'

More like late 1970s John Inman.

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Ageing star sucked retinue member to death, evidence indicates

Mike Richards
Paris Hilton

'Ageing star sucked retinue member to death, evidence indicates'

Paris???

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Vulture Central logo pops up in prehistoric France

Mike Richards

That's the Virgin Mary on a world tour after her highly successful appearance on an eBayed taco.

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Amazon UK to offer collection service at corner shops

Mike Richards

Re: Idea

The Post Office is trialling just this approach and will be extending it nationwide real soon now. I think they will default to leaving stuff with neighbours and households will have to opt out.

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eBay invites mystic wrath over ban on spells, potions and lotions

Mike Richards

Homeopathy

Still available on eBay, so I guess they're not banning magic for lack of evidence.

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Apple axes loyal store staff in Essex, Milton Keynes

Mike Richards

Good to see the Dixons effect working so well

Clearly John Browett is bringing the elusive Dixons shopping experience to his new masters. We can probably look forward to stories soon about massive queues and lost business because of lack of staff for the iPhone 5 launch and the run-up to Christmas.

And haven't Apple gone soft? Had his cock up over staffing happened during the reign of the turtlenecked overlord, Browett would have been out on his ear by now.

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Assange granted asylum by Ecuador after US refused to rule out charges

Mike Richards

Re: Well Done Equador

How can you offer a guarantee not to extradite someone to the US when the US hasn't made an extradition request? Suppose the US prosecutor delivers a request containing apparently unimpeachable evidence of very serious charges.

If we want to live in a state of law then extradition requests are dealt with on the strength of the allegations. Are the Swedes and the UK authorities meant to say a blunt 'no' and ignore the evidence? How does that serve justice?

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Mike Richards

Re: Well Done Equador

It's a real shame Ecuador isn't so concerned about the rights of its own citizens (http://www.hrw.org/americas/ecuador):

'Corruption, inefficiency, and political influence have plagued the Ecuadorian judiciary for many years. In a referendum held in 2011, President Rafael Correa obtained a popular mandate for constitutional reforms that could significantly increase government powers to constrain media and influence the appointment and dismissal of judges.

'Ecuador’s laws restrict freedom of expression, and government officials, including Correa, use these laws against his critics. Those involved in protests marred by violence may be prosecuted on inflated and inappropriate ‘terrorism’ charges.

'Impunity for police abuses is widespread and perpetrators of murders often attributed to a “settling of accounts” between criminal gangs are rarely prosecuted and convicted. '

I wonder how long Assange would have lasted were he unlucky enough to be an Ecuadoran? Or indeed, following his lucrative stint with RT, an opponent of Vladimir Putin?

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Greens wage war on clean low-carbon renewable energy

Mike Richards

Re: "Britain’s own geothermal investment are pretty puny"

But if you look at Devon and Cornwall which have the highest geothermal gradients, you could put power plants there which would satisfy a large proportion of local consumption and relieve their dependence of being at the end of a very long distribution system which is vulnerable to damage.

Also, even if you don't use geothermal for power generation, it can make for an excellent heat source for homes.

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Mike Richards

Re: Wasn't there a geothermal source setup in Newcastle ?

Yep, a 2km borehole into the gloriously named Ninety Fathom-Stublick Fault Zone to see if the underlying basement granite contains hot water. There is also geothermal district heating in Southampton.

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Mike Richards

Re: Geo exporting

The main reason is that the Icelandic power companies have previously concentrated on building power plants to service energy intensive industries such as aluminium smelting and ferro-silicon based in Iceland. This policy is going out of favour as the benefits of the factories are minimal in that they create relatively few jobs and their products are relatively low-value bulk materials whose value fluctuates wildly with changing global economics. More recently they've been exploring the potential for using hydro and geo power to power server farms which are a much higher value business.

There's also been a big public backlash against the perceived transformation of public lands into private hands. The damming of some of the most spectacular rivers in the country such as at Kárahnjúkar and the three new dams planned on the lower Þjórsá has been immensely controversial and the recent sale of geothermal reserves in Reykjanes to a Canadian company, Magma, was very, very unpopular.

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Mike Richards

Geothermal does cause earthquakes - but small ones.

The big new geothermal plant at Hellisheiði east of Reykjavik has been associated with a sharp uptick in earthquake activity around Hengill and Hveragerði. The earthquakes are being triggered by the injection of water after it has been bled of steam back into the reservoir. The largest of the quakes registers about 3.8 and they come in swarms of hundreds if not thousands spread over days or weeks. 3.8 is a noticeable jolt, but not really dangerous to anyone unless they're in a particularly fragile house - certainly not a problem in Iceland. The problem diminishes with time as the injection wells are brought up to full pressure and the rock around them becomes equally pressurised.

There have been no effects on the water table at Hellisheiði, although if you do visit the power station (and it is beautiful), you can't help but notice that geothermal has one big downside - hydrogen sulfide. But if that is the worst problem - bring it on!

The second big geothermal plant near Reykjavik at Svartsengi is also being used as a demonstration plant for methanol production. CO2 which is brought up in the well water is being separated and reacted with hydrogen to produce 5 million litres of methanol which will be added to petrol which is the country's biggest import by far.

http://www.carbonrecycling.is/

Geothermal in Britain is more difficult as our geothermal gradient is pitiful in comparison to Iceland and large parts of the US. However, it would be good to see some imagination in putting the resources of Devon, Cornwall and the Peak District to work in generating clean electricity.

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NASA's $2.5bn Curiosity rover: An Apple PowerBook on wheels

Mike Richards

Better article than

Those elsewhere which compared the rover to an iPhone. Forgetting the important point you get a better signal from a rover on Mars than an iPhone on O2.

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Mike Richards

Re: Riiight

Either that or a Zanussi washing machine with great games.

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Russian rocket fails to orbit 2 satellites after booster bungle

Mike Richards

Re: $7m for a satellite?

Probably not up there for very long - the transfer orbit they're stuck in is 165 * 3,118 miles.

It'll be interesting to see why the engine failed, its a hydrazine-fueled number which has almost no moving parts and doesn't need an igniter, so it should be very reliable. Apparently it had to make five firings, it failed on the third.

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British radio telescope genius Sir Bernard Lovell dies

Mike Richards

Soviets

Jodrell Bank had an up and down relationship with the Soviet space programme. It was used to track the Luna 1 and 2 Moon missions to provide independent corroboration that the Soviets had produced a rocket that could throw things to escape velocity.

But later they got into real trouble when Luna 9 became the first probe to land safely and return images from the surface of the Moon. Jodrell Bank was listening in to the messages and realised the data was coming back in standard teletype format. Inexplicably the Soviet Union had not published any of the images, so after waiting a reasonable time, JB called the Daily Express (when it used to be a newspaper) and were able to reconstruct the images and publish them in the West before they appeared in the Soviet press. Needless to say the politburo was not impressed.

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Mike Richards

Re: A true boffin...

That thing's a deathtrap - Tom Baker fell off it and woke up as Peter Davison.

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HSBC brands EVERY Apple iPhone 'an insecure PC'

Mike Richards

Their ads freak me out

Not just the ones with the creepy Chinese kids planning world domination, but that they put the same adverts on all the world's jetways. So the last thing you see before getting on a plane is an HSBC ad, then ten hours later you emerge, shattered, apparently in the same place.

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God-botherers burst onto IPTV Freeview: The End is Nigh

Mike Richards

AOL's into television

Surely they'd better spend their time making programmes about how to recycle unwanted CDs?

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Post-pub nosh deathmatch: Bauernfrühstück v bacon sarnie

Mike Richards

Re: Where's that frying pan...

'*It involves two forks, some jump leads and a 14 kW generator set.'

I remember a stag night along similar lines.

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Airline leaves customer on hold for 15 hours

Mike Richards

Wow!

That makes my personal record of 4 hours 7 minutes on hold (in a single call) with BT Total Broadband look positively speedy.

I didn't waste the time, I built four bookcases and a cupboard whilst waiting, then used the hour or so left over to find another ISP.

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Martian lakes seen where NASA Curiosity rover WON'T BE GOING

Mike Richards

Re: "Why build one..."

NASA's 2013 budget cut its support for the 2016 ESA ExoMars mission to divert money towards the James Webb Telescope which has gone horribly overbudget.

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Mike Richards

Re: "Why build one..."

ESA's ExoMars is due to put a rover down on the Red Planet in 2016 with a Russian rover following in 2018. NASA cancelled all involvement in the project earlier this year so there are no further American landers planned at the moment.

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M.R. James, master of the ghost story, was born 150 years ago

Mike Richards

Christopher Lee versions

About 10 years ago the BBC televised readings of some of these stories by Christopher Lee and despite being nothing more than an old man narrating a story in a cosy room they are some of the scariest things I've ever heard. I wish the Beeb would either show them again or issue them on DVD.

More recently, Susan Hill and Michelle Paver have written ghost stories worthy of MR James himself.

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Olympic athletes compete in RAYGUN SHOOTING for the first time

Mike Richards

A better explanation for the modern Pentathlon

It's every skill you need to escape from a castle after being caught in bed with the evil general's gorgeous daughter.

It'd be even better if they had to complete each discipline with a box of chocolates in one hand and fight off an army of disposable henchmen.

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Solar, wind, landfill to make cheapest power by 2030

Mike Richards

Re: A small question

Whilst there's a huge amount of geothermal power available, individual sites have limited lifetimes of about 20-50 years before their heat reservoir is depleted - rocks hold a lot of heat, but are lousy conductors. A good geothermal prospect not only needs hot rocks, but it needs expansion room to drill new boreholes when the older ones become less productive.

Australia's geothermal potential is mostly deep (4km) wells sunk into dry, ancient granites that are hot because of radioactive decay of high concentrations of uranium. If they can get it to work they will be exploiting the same sort of rocks as found in West Cornwall.

The Rosemanowes Quarry experiments in the 1980s produced large amounts of hot water but couldn't overcome huge losses of water between the injection and extraction wells. Modern fracking and horizontal drilling technologies might make this possible again. A 10MWe/50MWh pilot has been planned at Union Downs for Redruth for some time now and drilling should begin later this year. A second plant has also been approved at Eden.

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Mike Richards

Re: Gas? @JetSetJim

Magnox opted for a long decommissioning period so as to allow radiation levels to fall sufficiently that people will enter the reactor containment and perform the dismantling. The alternative was a 25 year process but that would have required them to design and build robots to perform the dismantling.

There are also big issues with the Magnox stations (and the AGRs when they reach EOL) about how to safely store the huge amounts of highly flammable and radioactive graphite from the cores/

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Pure Stream takes on AirPlay

Mike Richards

Re: £250??

It does look a bit - 'Argos'. And that remote - WTF?

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Ghost In the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society on Blu-ray

Mike Richards

Re: DAT OST

The soundtrack to 'Innocence' is incredible - as are the visuals such as the shoot-out in the convenience store and that amazing parade.

Not sure I entirely understand it, but sometimes you just have to go with the pretty.

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Dumpling squid do it WHENEVER THEY CAN, FOR HOURS ON END!

Mike Richards

'both males and females changing colour during the copulation (from yellow to dark purple “with green and orange highlights).'

I assume this is some sort of progress meter?

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