* Posts by Mike Richards

3605 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

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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Outage outrage: O2 dishes out 3 free days, £10 voucher

Mike Richards

Re: Good for O2

'we did get three copies of an apology printed on nice heavy paper with our statements this month, though. Not sure why 3 copies in one envelope...'

Three copies means they're *really* sorry. If you were one of their premium banking customers you'd have got five.

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McDonalds staff 'rough up' prof with home-made techno-spectacles

Mike Richards

Re: MMmmhh I'm Luvin

'A Playmobil reconstruction of this.......'

One with HappyMeal toys surely?

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Pyrotechnic boffin poised to light LOHAN's fire

Mike Richards

Re: igniter box

Li-Po?

Must be the chemist in me - but I wondered if a Lithium Polonium battery was a spot of overkill (in every sense). Then I did some googling - bitterly disappointed now.

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India preps craft for first mission to Mars

Mike Richards

Re: The UK can be proud of what aid to India has achieved.

'and i admire that but at the same time shouldnt they actually spend their money on their people? why should we foot the bill? basically we are paying for their space program, when we cant even afford our own.'

Yes they should and its shameful that so many people in India have almost nothing and rely on our aid. But we shouldn't ignore some of the poorest people in the world just because their own government doesn't do enough for them.

And we could afford a space programme if we chose, our leaders have decided that its not terribly important so we're not only the only country to ever give up a space programme, but we're only fringe players in ESA. Doubling or tripling our expenditure on space would hardly be a huge imposition and it would be repaid manyfold because Britain is actually bloody good at this with both Astrium and SurreySat as big players in the satellite business.

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Prince Charles whips out jumbo red ball for Blighty's code-breakers

Mike Richards

Re: Public Recognition

And...

After the war, Britain gave vast numbers of Enigma machines away to the various colonies and dependencies for them to encrypt all their traffic using an 'unbreakable' cipher. We also knew the Russians had got their hands on Enigma and hoped they would begin to encipher their communications with it.

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UK tech biz grinding to halt as Reg space programme sucks in talent

Mike Richards

Meanwhile?

Does El Reg have a top secret programme to kidnap any surviving Nazi rocket scientists and put them to work tinkering with LOHAN's strap-on thruster?

Because that would make an epic movie.

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WikiWin: Icelandic court orders Visa to process WikiLeaks $$$

Mike Richards

Re: DO YOU

Dear Barack,

We have a lovely big abandoned American airbase only three hours from the Eastern seaboard. Some Chinese and Russian investors have just arrived with a lot of money and are having trouble spending it. We've decided to have drinks together later.

Iceland.

PS. Don't make us deploy the rotten shark.

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'Extreme' solar storm speeding straight towards Earth

Mike Richards

We're fine

At the first sight of trouble, the Home Secretary has ordered O2 to send a text message composed by G4S that will allow all RBS customers to withdraw emergency beer money.

Literally nothing can go wrong.

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Sigma SD1 Merill 46Mp DSLR

Mike Richards

Re: "The SD1 is a camera that will work magic in studio or landscape photography"

I had an SD-14 which could produce astounding images at low ISOs and in bright light, but the noise issue and general mechanical unreliability with an overheating sensor and poor sealing made it an immensely frustrating camera to use. When it was good, it was better than any APS-C camera of the period, but it couldn't rival a full frame camera.

The biggest issue for anyone who thinks about switching to Sigma is that you are pretty much stuck with using Sigma hardware and software. Many stores won't carry lenses with the Sigma mount and the range is not huge, and as for the software - if you ever thought Adobe produced the worst software on Earth you haven't been unlucky enough to Sigma Photo Pro. Slow, buggy and incompatible with just about everything.

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Hubble finds fifth moon orbiting Pluto

Mike Richards

Re: Image processing

Complete guess, the glare of the much larger Pluto and Charon obscures reflections from the smaller moons. So the area containing the two main bodies has been partially obscured.

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LOHAN fizzles forlornly in REHAB

Mike Richards

Keep the motor warm?

Is there any way of using something like a hand warmer to keep the fuel block at a higher temperature?

If it's any consolation the American rockoon attempts of the 1950s had similar problems when their clockwork mechanisms kept freezing. The Navy's solution was to pack the machinery with cans of hot orange juice.

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Google Nexus 7 Android tablet

Mike Richards

Find out what warranty Google offers

If you do buy a US Nexus, check what warranty comes with it - it might be as little as 90 days (1 year standard in the UK) and it might be limited to the US only. A very few companies - mostly camera companies - offer worldwide warranties on their products, but most do not. If you're out of the warranty zone and if your product fails within the warranty period you will have to pay the full cost of a replacement or repair through the company's local tentacle.

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Can neighbours grab your sensitive package, asks Post Office

Mike Richards

Liability

If you tell the Post Office that you're happy for a neighbour to take in a parcel and it goes missing or is damaged are you liable? If a courier delivers a parcel to another address than that on the label *without permission* then they are entirely liable if anything goes wrong.

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UK.gov to clear way for Britain's first SPACEPORT

Mike Richards

Re: UK is in the wrong place to have a space port.

Don't we still own Ascension Island? Near the Equator, long runway, bugger all immediately to the East - it'd make a fantastic spaceport.

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Mike Richards

Re: Meh regulation

'Best of all - since there is virtually no space industry in the uk apart from Surrey Satelites'

The moneyspinning folks at Astrium would probably disagree with you on that point. The UK builds a sizeable proportion of the world's commsats.

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Climate was HOTTER in Roman, medieval times than now: Study

Mike Richards

Why?

Does the red trend line stop around 1900 just as recorded temperatures take a sharp upturn?

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50 years in SPAAAAACE: Telstar celebrates half-century since launch

Mike Richards

Echo and SCORE

'Telstar wasn't the first satellite to bounce radio signals, that was "Courier 1B" from whose name one can identify as a military project'

Courier 1B is pre-dated by Echo 1 which was a passive communication satellite - nothing more than big reflective mylar balloon which reflected signals. Echo 2 followed in 1964 by which time it had been superceded by active satellites.

SCORE was the first satellite to broadcast from space, it could play pre-recorded messages and receive new ones for later broadcast.

Courier was the first active satellite which received, amplified and rebroadcast radio signals in real time.

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Global warming: It's GOOD for the environment

Mike Richards

One problem with this scenario

Is that a good part of the savannah is being turned into agricultural land rather than being allowed to afforest. Farm land is a poor carbon sink and also brings other environmental problems such as the need for synthetic nitrogen and large amounts of phosphorus.

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Watch out for the GIGANTIC ALIEN JELLYFISH, warns space boffin

Mike Richards

Re: those aren't her ideas

Carl Sagan's 'Cosmos' featured a painting of (and I have to use the word) blobominations in Jupiter's atmosphere, based on work by Sagan and a colleague from Cornell, Ernest Salpeter. They knew the planet's interior was rich in organic molecules and warm, so life wasn't out of the question.

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Post-pub nosh deathmatch: Haggis pakora v huevos rancheros

Mike Richards

These are all warm-up acts

I can't wait for Lester's hákarl versus surströmming death-match.

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NatWest seeks volunteers to bonk with their iPhones

Mike Richards

'assuming one can demonstrate to the bank's satisfaction that fraud has been committed'

Sorry, just have to laugh at the thought of post-Libor RBS being fit to arbitrate on whether fraud has taken place.

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UK is first class for train Wi-Fi in Europe

Mike Richards

First Great Western

Is there WiFi on any of FGW's trains? Or is this another service they've neglected - along with customer service, punctuality, sufficient trains and new rolling stock?

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Mike Richards

Re: F***

How much work can you do on a train when you're folded double into a luggage rack and looking enviously at the bloke whose paid £3000 quid for a season ticket entitling him to travel in the toilet?

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Ten... alien invasions

Mike Richards

Re: War of the Worlds deserves a place in history

Doctor Who has had an alien invasion of Earth pretty much every week - Daleks trundling across Westminster Bridge, Yetis in the Underground, Krynoids lurking round Mick Jagger's mansion, mummies lurching around the same mansion, Julian Glover pulling his face off in Paris, and Cybermen (yes they are aliens) stomping around St. Pauls just being some of the better ones.

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Who runs UK? 'Tories, Lib Dems and Google' says Labour

Mike Richards

Harman's just upset that Google is opposed to Labour's official policy of censoring web searches in the UK.

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BAE proposes GPS-less location

Mike Richards

Re: Bring back LORAN

'Oh, and is it El Reg or BAE who can't spell opportunity?'

If only BAE's problems were simply limited to spelling.

I'm going to bet this system will have all of BAE's usual technical brilliance and sophistication - 'You are now flying over Iran - probably.'

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UK.gov proposes massive copyright land snatch

Mike Richards

Re: (c) teh interwebz

'They've got guns, too.'

Yeah but they were built by BAE so we're probably okay.

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The Grundy NewBrain is 30

Mike Richards

Picture - bottom of Page 3

What's in the big box behind the computer that the monitor is standing on?

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NASA counts down to nuclear tank invasion of Mars

Mike Richards

Re: How long...

After a good run of missions, the Americans lost Mars Observer in 1992, Climate Orbiter in 1998 and Polar Lander / Deep Space 2 in 1999. The UK then lost Beagle 2 in 2003. Since then its been nothing but successes apart from - oh dear - the Russians again with Fobos-Grunt.

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Mike Richards

Re: Computers are good for this:

"We've got literally seven minutes to get from the top of the atmosphere to the surface of Mars, going from 13,000 miles an hour to zero in perfect sequence, perfect choreography, perfect timing,"

Actually sounds that like the judging on 'Strictly Come Dancing'

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'Inexperienced' RBS tech operative's blunder led to banking meltdown

Mike Richards

Anyone checked

Where the BOFH is working these days?

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Mensch pal Bozier defends Menshn security, dubs critics 'snippy geeks'

Mike Richards

Up and down - oh its up / down again

Louise Mensch recommended that Facebook and Twitter should be turned off when there may be a riot. Perhaps her site is just practicing?

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Antarctic ice shelves not melting at all, new field data show

Mike Richards

Re: Dont' trust any scientists

'A quake that hasn't done that mcuh change to ground levels in any history.'

You're quite right - apart from (OTTOMH) the Chile 'quake of 1961 (2m), the Cascadia 'quake of 1700 (1.5m), Owens Valley in 1872 (4.5m), Hebgen Lake, Montana in 1956 (6.7m) - an intraplate earthquake at that....

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Tesco exec brands UltraViolet 'too complicated' for Brits

Mike Richards

Is it my imagination?

But has the triple-format Blu-Ray + DVD + digital download package pretty much disappeared from recent movie releases?

I quite liked it as it offered a top-quality disk for the big screen, a DVD for the kids to trash and a digital copy for travelling, but none of the big movies released in the last few months seem to have it. I wonder if they're planning on replacing it with UV?

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Neo-Nazis scoop YouTube ad revenue from UK telcos

Mike Richards

Re: Jesus said he will come back and slaughter us all....

'Actually the evidence appears to show that Jesus was an invention created using examples of previous imagined 'prophets' with very similar actions and supernatural powers.'

Ah, just like the way Marvel keeps rebooting its comic universe when sales fall.

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Alan Turing 100: Visionary, war winner ... game maker?

Mike Richards

Paper chess

Turing and David Champernowne invented the Turochamp algorithm in 1948. Without a computer to hand, they played games where one player impersonated the machine, following the algorithm rather than using their own game playing skill.

Turochamp definitely lost to Glennie in 1952, but there were earlier games which have not been recorded in detail, including one where it defeated Champernowne's wife.

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Mars has more water than thought

Mike Richards

Not wanting to worry anyone

But hydroxylapatite is found in bones and teeth.

Has CMU been experimenting on Martians? And will their descendants swear vengeance on the Earthmen who disturbed their eternal rest and bring fire and destruction to our planet?

Now that would be a press-release.

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Tech fault at RBS and Natwest freezes millions of UK bank balances

Mike Richards

Re: HSBC are just as 'good'.

Those automated paying-in machines are useless. They seem to need as many staff on hand to help people use the wretched technology as were once employed behind the counter processing cheques and making payments. I assume there has been a saving somewhere, but I'm damned if I can work out where.

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Mike Richards

Hold on - isn't RBS / NatWest taxpayer owned? So that £30 is coming out of our pockets!

Not a good day for this to happen when it's expected Moody will downgrade the bank's creditworthiness later today.

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Finnish PM rules out Nokia rescue package

Mike Richards

Re: Funny how everybody could see this coming...

With the exception of its patent portfolio, is Nokia worth anything to anyone other than Microsoft? The company has tied its future so tightly to Windows Phone that turning it round to manufacture - say - Android handsets would surely be such a massive task that it could founder before anything came to market.

I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft took a large equity stake in Nokia real soon now, if only to keep those lovely patents close to hand and avoid the company slipping away.

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