* Posts by Mike Richards

3602 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

HSBC pinpoints branches with sub-atomic accuracy

Mike Richards

Uncertain

According to Heisenberg's Law of Banking Practice if you you know HSBC's position with such accuracy it means that you can never know how much they're ripping you off.

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Kodak heading to Chapter 11

Mike Richards

See also Polaroid.

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Exotic Russian rock CAME FROM OUTER SPACE

Mike Richards

Thank-you!

I was hunting for just that factoid.

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The Commodore 64 is 30

Mike Richards

A great machine, but responsible for a lot of problems that befell the industry. Commodore's cut-throat pricing killed off a lot of promising companies that didn't have the resources to last through a price war, they nearly destroyed Atari and left the company with no choice but to break up and sell off the fragments (including ironically to Tramiel). And finally Commodore killed Commodore - bargain basement prices meant that money was always short when it came to developing the next generation of computers.

But that said, it did give us Boulderdash. And Dropzone. And Paradroid. And Uridium...

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NASA to place twin probes in Moon orbit as you snog beneath mistletoe

Mike Richards

The reason is...

It was on 'QI' a while back - a programme which has a slightly less rigorous fact-checking process than Conservapedia.

So yes Regers - we can blame Steven Fry!

Hurrah!

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Apple's TV killer 'on shelves by summer 2012'

Mike Richards

EyeTV

Is nice, but again the interface needs work - nothing massive, just lots of little sillies that could be easily addressed - setting a season pass should be easier and the calendar that rolls back a whole day when you select 06:00 or earlier from a drop-down menu just being two of them.

And improving its stability should be crucial, a TV tuner should run days, weeks, months without ever needing to be restarted. I've found the latest few versions of EyeTV to be pretty unstable and have often come home hoping to spend a half hour in the company of the lovely (if possibly psychopathic) Monica on Masterchef, only to see the error window.

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Mike Richards

TiVo

TiVo's user interface used to be wonderful as it was fantastically intuitive and uncluttered. More recently it has spawned more and more services and distracting animations so it's getting fairly unwieldy. Still ten times better than Sky's horrorshow however - and unimaginably better than the one shipped with Panasonic devices.

Where TiVo still scores is its intelligent season passes that hunt programmes down no matter how often the schedules change and it's 'I'll record this on the off chance...' feature which learns what you like and goes hunting for more stuff you're likely to like. Combine that with a few simple favourite actors, directors and the like and it'll save you a lot of frustration.

However, that functionality has been patented to buggery (my legalese) and repeatedly upheld in courts so it'll be interesting to see if Apple can come up with something similar or better.

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Latest El Reg project: Rise of the Robot Sheep

Mike Richards

I like it!

The only way that could be improved is if it could also cover the garden with six inches of concrete to save on future mowing related expenses.

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Lumia sales fail to set world alight

Mike Richards

US?

Has the Lumia even launched in the US yet?

It's a shame if it fails, the phone is a nice piece of kit and the OS is excellent. Sadly Microsoft's bad smell has probably done for it.

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Ofcom maps out what 'psychics' are allowed to do on TV

Mike Richards

Fleecing the vulnerable and desperate of their cash

Isn't that what Sky's for?

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O2 denies Nokia WinPho handset cull

Mike Richards

'Cock-up or conspiracy?'

With O2? Cock-up every time.

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Five firms to create HD-centric DRM for SD cards

Mike Richards

And the good news is

They'll only charge a little bit more for all this extra security. It sort of reminds me of Sony's myriad of MemoryStick formats which seemed to exist in equal measure to foist unwanted DRM on customers and to reduce even tech-savvy individuals to utter bewilderment. How has that gone down with consumers? On the strength of all the MemoryStick compliant devices that aren't out there, I'd say not at all.

Still, it sounds like the even more secure Secure Digital card is a good candidate for the most hilarious technological fail of 2012.

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Nissan Leaf battery powered electric car

Mike Richards

Reversing

The best bit has to be the reversing doohicky with all the bendy lines that tell you where the car will be going is absolutely amazing.

The build quality is lovely and I like the interior, even if all that white is going to be troublesome for anyone with dogs, children or even new jeans. For a lot of people this will be the perfect car just as soon as the price comes down towards VW prices. And that will happen, this is new technology and production capacity is limited.

I like the future - I'll like it even more just as soon as it's Maserati shaped.

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Duff Mars probe's flaming shards to rain down mid-January

Mike Richards

Depends in many things

It's very hard to narrow it down further. Rather than a simple orbit in a vacuum, the probe is now interacting with the Earth's atmosphere. The time of the actual re-entry will be governed by the attitude of the probe with respect to the atmosphere as that will affect the amount of drag it experiences. The other big factor is how active the Sun will be, the more active the Sun, the more it heats the atmosphere which expands and causes more drag. Skylab was the most famous victim of atmospheric heating.

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Mike Richards

Not quite right on US to Venus

The 1978 Pioneer-Venus Multiprobe mission was the only US Venus surface lander. All four subprobes landed on the surface after returning atmospheric data. One continued to return data after landing.

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2011's Best... DSLRs

Mike Richards

Alpha cameras

The Sony A35's big brother, the A77 is a monster and very enjoyable to use with 24 megapixels and 10fps shooting. Lots of toys such as 1080p video and GPS built in as well. Though it's currently rare as hen's teeth thanks to the Thai floods.

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Google execs eye NASA's Hangar One to park their air fleet

Mike Richards

Absolutely

Meanwhile the two hangars at Cardington built for the R100 and R101 are in a shocking state of disrepair.

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Greenland 'lurched upward' in 2010 as 100bn tons of ice melted

Mike Richards

The islands of the Aegean show wild changes in sea level, but these are tectonic in origin as the southern Mediterranean is subducted under the Aegean. Many parts of Greece are being stretched and dragged under the waves, but towards Turkey you see islands pushing out of the ocean.

The Baltic is a better place to see isostasy in action. Lake Mälaren just West of Stockholm was a branch of the Baltic as recently as the Viking Age, today it is a freshwater lake linked to the ocean by the Riddarfjärden. Rebound continues at about 1cm per year which also means that the Stockholm Archipelago keeps growing new islands.

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Mike Richards

Nyergh... must comment

'The Earth is a big molten ball with scum floating on it, some parts thickier than others, as slow magma currents cause it to crinkle, not unlike the skin on boiled milk.'

As S-waves show, the Mantle is solid. If you drill a hole down through the Crust from almost anywhere on the Earth's surface the first liquid you will hit is in the Outer Core - and then you'll hit a geyser of molten iron.

It's much better to think of the Earth as being similar to a cold Mars Bar. The outside chocolate shell (the Crust) is brittle, below that is a caramel which is technically solid yet highly plastic layer (the Asthenosphere), below that is a solid layer of fudge which is still plastic (the Mantle proper). Bend the Mars Bar slowly and the Crust cracks, but the Asthenosphere and Mantle bend gradually. Hit it hard and they fracture.

Likewise the Mantle undergoes flow over the long term, but remains entirely solid.

Where this theory breaks down is that the Earth is much less delicious than a Mars Bar.

If you really want to see isostatic rebound in action, drive along Route 1 in Southern Iceland between Hveragerði and Vík í Mýrdal. The enormous cliffs on the left of the car are the old sea cliffs from about 10kya; the strip of land you're driving on is the old beach and the sea is anything up to 10km away on the right. Towards Reykjavik the calculations are that rebounds were anything up to 7cm PER YEAR in the immediate postglacial period which would put them amongst the fastest known.

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Beeb rescues old Who episodes

Mike Richards

Underwater Menace - oh dear

Why's it never Power of the Daleks or Web of Fear?

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Royal Mail double-dip billing bug enrages stocking-filling biz

Mike Richards

Yep, it's well and truly consigniaed.

I hope the telephone support staff are arranging a very special party for the person who okayed major changes to the Royal Mail's IT systems in the run-up to Christmas. You know the sort of party with bunting, balloons, a few stakes, rope and a very low tide...

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Iran displays video footage of captured US spy drone

Mike Richards

Was it captured, or...

...did it defect?

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UltraViolet: Hollywood's giant digital gamble is here

Mike Richards

Whats lifetime mean

My lifetime, the lifetime of the last person living in my cosy group, or an arbitrary period set by the publishers?

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NASA rover finds evidence of water flowing on Mars

Mike Richards

I don't think geologists are boffins.

They're a specialised type of waterproof scientist for whom every problem can be solved using a suitably large hammer.

Boffins need sheds.

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Nokia to sell off luxury phone brand

Mike Richards

Unanswered question

What's Naomi Campbell going to be chucking at the help now?

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Steve Jobs' last design: New Apple HQ pics

Mike Richards

Apricots

Steve Jobs said in an interview how much he missed the apricot orchards that filled the part of the Bay Area that because Silicon Valley.

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Mythbusters cannonball ‘myth-fires’

Mike Richards

Timber-framed homes are standard in much of the US and very common in the Nordic countries. Built and maintained properly they are nice to live in - and much cheaper than the brick boxes in the UK.

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New Turing petition calls for criminal pardon

Mike Richards

He had a choice

But not a good one.

Take the hormones or go to prison for his 'crime' - and I think we can all guess what the consequences of that would have been.

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Navy training mine washes ashore on Miami Beach

Mike Richards

'inexplicably came loose'

I think inexplicable might be the wrong word - the chain broke. Mystery solved - next the Loch Ness monster!

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Groupon grotty grotto rage forces Santa's chief elf to quit

Mike Richards

Groupon seem to be better at killing off businesses than any number of economic recessions. From their catastrophic flotation through to cup cake companies baking round the clock, it's been a long time since there's been a Groupon story that can't be filed under 'Uh oh'.

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NASA busts booster booster

Mike Richards

LOHAN

Has anyone checked Lester's expense claims of late? You never know in amongst the receipts for beer, donkey food, more beer and Playmobil, he might have slipped in one for a Saturn V.

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Headmaster freezes schoolkids for Gaia

Mike Richards

Shhhhh!

'Small point - charcoal is produced from trees which capture the CO2 while growing, so the CO2 produced by burning the charcoal is effectively 'carbon neutral'.'

You're confusing the argument by using 'science'.

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Apple Thunderbolt Display 27in monitor

Mike Richards

High def colour would be nice

Apple still claims to be the preferred solution for photographers and video editors yet it still hasn't released a high-colour gamut screen to rival HP's DreamColor displays.

And I'm with the folks above, those high gloss screens are a nightmare to work with in most offices.

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TV writer quells rumours of Doctor Who movie

Mike Richards

They were made by Amicus in the UK

And two of the few movies from that long-lost and fondly-remembered studio not to feature Doug McClure.

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Clandestine US 'space warplane' extends orbital mission

Mike Richards

Eggboxes

I assumed it was actually really small and made from Lego.

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The BBC Micro turns 30

Mike Richards

Imagine the shrieks of protest

From AO and the anti-BBC faction on here if the Corporation announced a similar project today. The BBC Micro might have been priced for middle-class kids, but it really has to be amongst the finest things the BBC have ever brought us.

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Duff Mars probe team sweats under Medvedev menaces

Mike Richards

'it means that we need to carry out a detailed review and punish those guilty'

So someone is guilty are they?

It won't be long before Putin's Puppet starts accusing Roscosmos of 'sabotage'.

They might want to start looking at why their budget for a Mars mission was $163 million when NASA's equivalents cost ten times as much.

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MPs: This plan for proper navy carriers and jets is crazy!

Mike Richards

I'm also available

And I should be just about to retire by the time the aircraft carrier is due to enter service (but probably won't).

I have a suspicion that this will get a LONG way down the road before being canned - see TSR-2. One difference being that the TSR-2 was actually an impressive, ahead of the crowd project. This is a big boat with a flat top.

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Mike Richards

How on earth?

Can it take twenty years from now to get to a working aircraft carrier? Are we waiting for the necessary engineers to leave kindergarten?

I'm sure the Americans would sell us one of their nearly new aircraft carriers + air wing for a lot less than this mighty white elephant.

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Malls suspend plan to track shoppers' cellphones

Mike Richards

Creepy surveillance technology from the UK

I suppose we should be pleased to know to that New Labour's approach to surveillance has created at least one money spinning company.

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Ken Russell dies aged 84

Mike Richards

Tribute needed

I trust a tasteful Playmobil tribute to Women In Love will be forthcoming?

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Phobos-Grunt 'crippled by US aurora station', 'is a bio-weapon'

Mike Richards

Roscosmos better check their facts

"Only 30 per cent of Soviet-Russian launches to Mars were successful, the Americans have had 50 per cent success, while all attempts by Japan and Europe have failed so far"

Whether the Soviet/Russian success rate is even that high must be debatable.

Mars 1M A and B - trapped in Earth orbit.

Mars 1962A and B exploded during launch,

Mars 1 died in interplanetary space (but set a communications distance record).

Zond 1964A failed on launch.

Zond 2 died in interplanetary space.

Mars 1969A, Mars 1969B and Kosmos 419 all failed on launch.

Mars 2 and 3 both orbiters achieved their objective. Mars 2's lander crashed, Mars 3's landed and transmitted data for 15 seconds - the data is probably corrupt.

Mars 4 failed to make Martian orbit and flew by the planet,

Mars 5 a major success achieving orbit but failed in 9 days.

Mars 6 reached Mars but failed during the landing.

Mars 7 ejected the lander prematurely and missed the planet.

Fobos 1 died in interplanetary space.

Fobos 2 entered orbit, returned some imagery and was then commanded to turn away from the Earth - oops! Lander was not deployed.

Mars 96 failed on launch.

Fobos-Grunt failed to leave Earth orbit.

Meanwhile, Europe has put a very successful orbiter around Mars. If they'd like to check their receipts they'll see it was fired there by a Roscosmos Soyuz-Fregat. The Beagle 2 lander failed during descent to the Martian surface.

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Global warming much less serious than thought - new science

Mike Richards

It's a bit more complex than that

Believe it or not Lewis has cherry picked the study's findings.

A global sensitivity of 2.4K was indeed found, but the researchers admit that the application of global sensitivities might obscure regional variations. For instance, their best fit puts Antarctica 4K *warmer* than the ice cores tell us whilst saying the West Antarctic Ice Sheet was 7K *cooler* than the evidence in the ice.

The authors are quite clear that we need more and better measurements of the Last Glacial Measurement.

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Will Mars rover Curiosity be the last of its nuclear kind?

Mike Richards

The default Republican view on science seems to be

'I find your lack of faith disturbing.'

They're probably outraged at millions of dollars being spent on doing 'research', finding 'facts' and looking for 'evidence' when everything anyone needs to know is in their bumper-sized book of Jesus and his crazy friends.

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Boffins find new 2012 glyph on 'secret' Mayan brick

Mike Richards

It might just say

'Continued on next pyramid'

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LOHAN fondles substantial concrete buttocks

Mike Richards

In the spirit of Boy's Own adventuring

Jeepers! Look Out!

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Our roving reporter snaps Tenerife sex dangle

Mike Richards

Excellent!

That means it is now officially beer-o-clock. And at 09:30 I'm heading pubward.

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Ex-NASA space shuttle to touch down on aircraft carrier

Mike Richards

Discovery is going to the Air and Space Museum, Endeavour to the California Science Center in LA and Atlantis will remain at KSC.

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Rogue Russian Mars probe communicates - but in gibberish

Mike Richards

Have they tried

Turning it off and on again?

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Scientists probe Earth's core, make mystifying discovery

Mike Richards

But also

From examining the composition of iron meteorites, where most contain inclusions of pyrrhotite (usually in the form of troilite) and graphite, we should also expect considerable amounts of sulfur and silicon down there.

(Of course the density of the Core would be massively reduced if Doug McClure was right all those years ago.)

Why yes that is a geological hammer in my pocket...

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