* Posts by Mike Richards

3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

US military's RAY-GUN truck BLASTS DRONES, mortars OUT OF THE SKY

Mike Richards

Re: The Americans must love asymmetric warfare

This is just the Mark I which exists mainly to justify follow-on contracts.

Following a lone sniper attack on the lorry Boeing will go along to the DoD and ask for funding for an improved Mark II that will be only very slightly more expensive and contain a slightly less obvious fatal flaw.

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'Disruptive, irritating' in-flight cellphone call ban mulled by US Senate

Mike Richards

Odd coming from Feinstein

That's precious time when people could be making phone calls for her friends in the NSA to tap.

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How Britain could have invented the iPhone: And how the Quangocracy cocked it up

Mike Richards

Re: Britain has led the way

One thing Britain still doesn't have is the venture capital community that you find in Silicon Valley or Cambridge, MA. Had this idea been developed in the US it would have been possible to find a group of investors who either had the specialist knowledge, or knew the people who did, to make a decision on whether this was worth funding. Silicon Valley keeps going because its where brilliant ideas meet an avalanche of money.

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China's 'Airpocalypse' forces pilots to learn BLIND landings in smog

Mike Richards

Wow!

The photo of the plane on the apron is horrifying. The exhaust is probably cleaner than the air going in.

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BT network-level STOCKINGs-n-suspenders KILLER arrives in time for Xmas

Mike Richards

Levels "strict", "moderate" and "light"

Not "strict", "naughty boy" and "spanking"?

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Cassini spots MEGA-METHANE SEAS on the north pole of Titan

Mike Richards

Re: we'd use far more energy getting there and back

Doctor Who's 'Invisible Enemy' had one of those on Titan, where Earth was menaced by a giant prawn in cahoots with Mr Bronson after he was infected by terrifying eyebrows.

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Why America is no longer slurping electricity from Russian nuke warheads

Mike Richards

Re: Plutonium?

The Clinton White House had a plan to take 50 tonnes of plutonium from each of the American and Russian stockpiles to blend into MOX fuel for PWRs. IIRC the Bush White House cancelled the plan.

In a 2000 agreement, the US said it would turn 75% of its plutonium stockpile into MOX which would be consumed in PWRs, but not reprocessed. The rest would be blended into reactor waste and vitrified, this was cancelled around 2000 and the MOX plant is still under construction.. The US also agreed to help the Russians build a MOX plant to dispose of 34 tonnes of their plutonium, but the cost rose from about $3 billion to more than $18 billion. So far the Russians have paid for their MOX plant from their own money.

In 2010, the US agreed an amendment to the 2000 agreement that will allow the Russians to turn their plutonium into fuel for two demonstration fast neutron reactors that are under construction with the stipulation it will not reprocess any spent fuel from the reactors before all 34 tonnes have been passed through the plants.

US plutonium is kept at Pantex near Amarillo in Texas and at Savannah River, Georgia. Not sure about the Russian plutonium.

France offered to sell a MOX plant to the US, but was refused. Both Britain and France have (mostly) operational MOX facilities largely designed for exporting fuel to Japan which was suspended, but which has now resumed, following the Fukushima meltdowns.

BTW. A large amount of the highly enriched uranium in the Megatons to Megawatts programme actually came from Soviet era nuclear submarine fuel which was often enriched to over 90% so that the core could be made smaller and quieter.

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OMG, Andrex KILLED the PUPPY! Not quilty, exclaim bog roll boys

Mike Richards

Re: Federal Toilet Paper Regulations

'Issue Tissue' - awesome.

God only knows what damage bureaucrats who set minimum splinter levels in toilet paper could do if they were let loose on important stuff.

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Universal Credit: £40 MILLION and counting's been spaffed up the wall on useless IT gear

Mike Richards

Re: FFS IDS

That would have required Hell to send out for gritting lorries.

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How UK air traffic control system was caught asleep on the job

Mike Richards

Re: One million lines of code

They may well have used the same rigorous testing procedures as RBS.

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This one time at Apple Camp... Tech titan offers to school US fanbois on coding

Mike Richards

What you've got to hope from the one hour taster is that they have enjoyed themselves writing something that sort-of worked that they think another hour's commitment might be worth it, and then another hour's and another...

So the question is - what happens to those people who get to the end of the hour and want to continue but aren't ready for unstructured, unsupervised learning?

They might never make software engineers or build an app, but if they learn that they can program a bit and get the computer to do something for them then that's worth trying.

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SGI flutters onto corpse of Starboard Storage, pecks away at assets

Mike Richards

SGI

They're still going? Though by the sounds of it only the three letters are in common with their origins.

Sigh, no more pretty boxes.

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El Reg's contraptions confessional no.2: Tablet PC, CRT screen and more

Mike Richards

Re: Model M

Lovely things. I had a Mattias Touch Pro on my office Mac which had the same microswitched keys - accurate, fast and it even had all the character accents printed on it - and then they moved us to an open plan office.

I would have happily kept it, but the rest of the building didn't like a sound akin to the skeleton fight from the Jason and the Argonauts soundtrack.

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Developer unleashes bowel-shaking KILLER APP for Google Glass

Mike Richards

Re: Glasshole killer app involves dog turds

And adverts, lots and lots of adverts - it is Google after all.

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Blighty's winter storms are PUNY compared to Saturn's 200mph, 15,000 mile wide HEXACANE

Mike Richards

Re: North Pole

The storm is down to atmospheric circulation just as the Antarctic has a large circumpolar vortex, so it's not magnetic.

You're quite right, Saturn has very little temperature difference between the equator and poles because most of its atmospheric heat is coming from an internal (poorly understood going on 'no bloody idea') heat source.

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Brit inventors' GRAVITY POWERED LIGHT ships out after just 1 year

Mike Richards

Re: Nice idea

Kerosene does give a good light, but as the article says, it is hazardous to use, the smoke alone is a killer even if it is used 'safely'. And it is very expensive. We might complain here about the price of petrol as oil prices go up, but for very poor people reliant on kerosene the rises have been crippling, which is on top of countries phasing out subsidies for kerosene as part of their economic reforms.

Good luck to them with this project. As someone said above, if it means a kid can learn or just enjoy a book after dark, it's worth the money.

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The latest stupid yoof craze: Taking selfies - while DRIVING

Mike Richards

Re: £2000

'a wet cubic yard of compost'

A very useful unit - thank-you!

And 'a wet cubic yard of compost' is pretty much what most American cars are made of.

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IT MELTDOWN ruins Cyber Monday for RBS, Natwest customers

Mike Richards

Re: Resolved? I think not.

I wonder if RBS's issues with IT are down to the multitude of other banks it gobbled up, presumably each with their own special flavour of software?

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On the matter of shooting down Amazon delivery drones with shotguns

Mike Richards

Re: Guns won't work, so let's look at alternatives...

Labradors and strategically planted trampolines.

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Mike Richards

How much does a Sidewinder missile run to these days?

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Sick to death of Xmas? Try these explosive gift ideas

Mike Richards

Is it just me?

Or would any one else buy the astronomy book just to feel better about every decent comet being in the southern hemisphere, eclipses clouded over and the aurora buggering off somewhere else for the evening?

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Mike Richards

Are they the same ones offering the all-you-can-eat polonium buffet?

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India's Martian MOM leaves the nest

Mike Richards

'an attempt to find methane and other signatures of life'

Methane isn't necessarily created by biology, whilst most of it here on Earth is bacterial, some is produced abiogenically in geothermal areas.

The aim of this mission is to try and locate where the Martian methane is coming from as it appears to be largely localised into plumes. The second aim is to see if there are other gases associated with the plumes as these would help explain its origins. Again here on Earth, biological methane tends to be associated with tiny amounts of ethane, whilst geothermal methane is emitted along with sulfur dioxide.

But hats off to the Indians if they can first of all get to Mars and then find methane at levels of parts per billion and report the findings back across a couple of hundred million kilometres when I can't find my bloody headphones...

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Elon Musk scrubs lucrative MONEY RING debut again on Thanksgiving

Mike Richards

'Sorry, can't come to the argument-ridden Thanksgiving meal with relatives I don't like - I have to launch a rocket,' is possibly the best excuse anyone could have.

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Last 7m non-digital Brits are OUT OF LUCK: I'm OFF, says Baroness Fox

Mike Richards

You'd have thought more money would be forthcoming

With the knowledge 7 million people in the country aren't having their emails read by GCHQ - they could be up to anything.

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Dixons selling £68k gold, diamond, ruby and sapphire iPhone for Xmas

Mike Richards
Paris Hilton

£68k?

So only slightly more than a Monster Cable.

Still trying to get my head round the thought that Dixons is the last word in luxury electronics purchases.

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Sceptic-bait E-Cat COLD FUSION generator goes on sale for $US1.5m

Mike Richards

Nickel + high pressure hydrogen?

Don't know if it'll make limitless energy, but it'll make excellent Stork margarine.

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Assange flick The Fifth Estate branded 'WORST FILM OF THE YEAR'

Mike Richards

Re: Misleading title

Oh I'd forgotten about the Diana movie. Will anyone here fess up to having seen it - or will we just have to take Naomi Watts word that Diana's ghost was very happy with it?

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Mike Richards

Re: AC John Carter

It did have 'of Mars' in the shooting title, but then Disney's market research wonks decided that 'of Mars' would turn off women and it would do badly at the cinema. So they dumped the two words and it did disastrously at the box office - despite being completely splendid. Ahhhhh Deja Thoris....

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Mike Richards

Misleading title

Because 'After Earth' featuring two members of the Smith family trying to emote their way through an M Night Shylaman script is easily the worst film of the year.

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False widow spiders in guinea pig slaughter horror

Mike Richards

Re: Won't someone think of the CHILDREN?

Immigrant spider at that. The Mail's crack arachnid team is no doubt anxiously watching house prices and cancer admissions in the area.

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PS-PHWOARRR: We review Sony’s next-gen PlayStation 4

Mike Richards

When you talk about the evolving functionality of the PS3

Do you mean the things Sony took away in later models?

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Hello Warsaw: Greenland ice loss will be OK 'even under extreme scenarios'

Mike Richards

Re: Greenland was actually, you know green.....

'In the summer Eirik went to live in the land which he had discovered, and which he called Greenland, "Because," said he, "men will desire much the more to go there if the land has a good name."'

Eiríks saga rauða

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Mike Richards

Re: Greenland was actually, you know green.....

'The 'Vikings' spent @500 years in Greenland as a fair chunk of it it was a green a lush verdant forested paradise,'

There were no forests in Greenland. It was low scrub and grassland. The wood was imported from Norway and from Iceland (hastening that country's ecological collapse). It was always a marginal agricultural society even during the warmest period reliant on a hay harvest to keep animals alive in the winter. As soon as the conditions began to deteriorate there was no slack in the system and the inflexibility of the Norse economy doomed them to starvation.

There's a very readable account of the Norse settlement of Greenland and its rather grisly fate in 'Collapse' by Jared Diamond.

'On this basis, could someone please provide evidence of the ocean levels falling during the period of refreezing and the subsequent post industrialisation melting everything (allegedly).'

By all means:

Nunn, P. D. (2000), Environmental catastrophe in the Pacific Islands around A.D. 1300. Geoarchaeology, 15: 715–740. doi: 10.1002/1520-6548(200010)15:7<715::AID-GEA4>3.0.CO;2-L

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ROCK FROM MARS FOUND in Africa, reveals Red Planet's SECRETS

Mike Richards

Re: Ok, excuse me for asking but HTF do they know it is from Mars?

Often it's done by comparing the composition of gas bubbles within the rock to measurements of the Martian atmosphere obtained from Soviet and American Mars landers. If that can't be done then it's a process of elimination. Isotope ratios will not match those of the Earth and Moon. The mineralogy is often quite evolved and can incorporate hydrous minerals, and will not match that of the Moon or regular stony meteorites. They have a *relatively* young crystallisation age determined by radio dating will not match that of stony meteorites, and the effect of cosmic ray bombardment usually shows they have been in space for only a few million years.

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GALACTIC YO-YO: Doctor Who’s trips to Earth... and beyond

Mike Richards

Re: Budget

The earthbound Pertwee episodes were a decision by the BBC to rival the glossy look of ATV's series such as 'The Avengers' and raise viewing figures which had fallen quite steeply in the later Troughton era.

What's odd about the new obsession with Earth stories is that the BBC finally has the money and effects people to render semi-convincing extraterrestrial settings. With all their millions imagine what they could do with the Zarbi - actually don't...

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Deep beneath MELTING ANTARCTIC ice: A huge active VOLCANO

Mike Richards

Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

'Iceland isn't a hotspot. Iceland is the result of the plates pulling apart. *big* difference.'

Huge difference, but Iceland's activity is driven by a hotspot - in fact its the dynamic uplift of low-density, upwelling Mantle under NE-Iceland that helps keep the island elevated above sea level. The Mid Atlantic Ridge North and South of Iceland, and indeed the section along the Reykjanes Peninsula is much less productive than the region associated with the hotspot.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iceland_hotspot if you doubt me.

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Mike Richards

Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

Indeed Laki is the worst recorded eruption in modern Icelandic history but it was subaerial rather than subglacial. Of the two, I think I prefer the ones under the ice.

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Mike Richards

Re: Ooops. Can you say "Tipping point"?

It does sound like a hotspot, but that doesn't mean it's nothing to worry about. It all rather depends if this is an elderly hotspot like the one under Hawaii which on average produces something like 0.1km3 of magma every year (a not inconsiderable 270 million tonnes) on average, or if it is a young plume which could produce between ten and one hundred times as much magma.

Iceland is a good analogue for this with several very active volcanoes under major icecaps including Katla under the Mýrdalsjökull and Bárðarbunga (so should be a band name) and Grímsvötn under Vatnajökull. Eruptions are fairly regular and tend to have only local effects in the form of massive glacial floods called jökulhlaups; but the bigger eruptions - such as Katla in 1918 and Grímsvötn in 2011 can produce massive ash clouds.

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'FELSIC materials' find on MARS could rewrite Red Planet's history

Mike Richards

Slight correction

''A felsic igneous rock, granite is normally formed on earth as the result of volcanic activity and other tectonic phenomena. ''

Granite is not the result of volcanic activity. It is a plutonic rock formed at depth; it can be created by fractionating a more primitive magma, or, it can be created by depressurising deeply-buried crustal rocks.

Without a surface mission it will be hard to say if the rocks are indeed granite and have been exposed by erosion or faulting; or if they are corresponding felsic volcanic rocks that were erupted on to the surface. If the latter, it will be interesting, as it is a new rock type for Mars and it will imply magma was in existence long enough at relatively shallow depths to undergo fractionation. Similar felsic eruptions occur here on Earth, such as the Öræfajökull in Iceland, which has produced the amazing rhyolite and obsidian landscape of Landmannalaugur despite being source by quite primitive Mantle-derived basalts.

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Mike Richards

Re: "lacks plat techtonics"

'AFAIK the only way that happens is if Mars is solid all the way through.'

Not at all. The Earth is solid with the exception of the Outer Core - but it convects. Venus doesn't have plate tectonics because it has an enormously thick, strong lithosphere; but its density and size suggests it *should* have a convecting interior.

Mars did have primitive plate tectonics. It shows magnetic striping similar to that on the Earth's ocean floors and the Valles Marineris is a tectonic boundary. The mystery is why plate tectonics did not develop as fully on Mars as they have on Earth. By the time we know tectonics were going on Earth (there is still some debate about them in the first 600Ma of the Earth's history), Mars's interior would have been hot enough to support tectonism, but many of the features we associate with tectonics on Earth are absent on Mars.

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India's Martian MOM lays another perfect orbital egg

Mike Richards

Re: No chucking!

As in many things, the Soviets got their first. The theory of gravitational assists was published in the USSR in - incredibly - 1925 and was first implemented by Luna 3.

But NASA has to get the record - Cassini has done something like one hundred slingshots around the Saturn system.

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What a plot of nonsense: Ten Master master plan FAILS

Mike Richards

'threatening to open the many tiny holes in the skin of space'

Long time since I saw it, but wasn't the devilishly beard-stroking plan to *close* the holes, making the Universe a closed thermodynamic system in which entropy would continue to increase?

We could do with a bit more thermodynamic doohickies in the new season rather than the 'it'll all be all right if I wave my sonic and everyone loves one another' bollocks.

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Google Earth SHOCK: ZERO point ZERO ZERO SIX of world forests disappear each year

Mike Richards

The survey doesn't say which of those forests are low biodiversity monoculture for pulp or palm oil replacing ancient forest with high biodiversity. So there is still a crisis in the world's forests.

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Bitcoin mining rig firm claims $3m revenue in just FOUR DAYS

Mike Richards

Quite a clever company

Their current machines drive up the difficulty of mining and make themselves obsolete. So as long as the Swedes can keep cranking out faster miners they're minted.

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Murdoch stands between your kids and filth with BSkyB network-level SHIELD

Mike Richards

Always ask for Uncle Rupes Personally Approved Jubblies

I'm sure Murdoch was heartbroken at blocking access to free titillation, so upset in fact he's offering his own Sun-brand phwoah! behind a teensie-weensie paywall.

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Mixed bag of motors lifts India's budget Mars shot

Mike Richards

India's space programme has brought real benefits to the country in terms of improved resource monitoring, weather forecasting, mineral prospecting and telecommunications. Building those satellites and space probes employs thousands of the brightest people in the world, helps create a thriving high tech business and inspires the next generation of kids to improve their prospects.

Good luck to them.

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Ten top stories from New Who

Mike Richards

He's not bad in the new Thor movie.

Though it would have benefitted from him saying 'Fantastic!' as he trashes Greenwich; and perhaps the Doctor popping up - saving London is his job isn't it? Can't leave it to Aussies...

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Mike Richards

There hasn't been a really good Cyberman story since [controversially] 'The Invasion'. Apart from the sheer joy of pancaking Adric into a dinosaur, even 'Earthshock' isn't much cop.

You can quickly whittle down the bad episodes in the new Who - just get rid of the ones where there's a happy ending brought about by the power of love and any one where the sonic screwdriver develops yet another miraculous power.

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'Daddy, can I use the BLACK iPAD?': Life with the Surface Pro 2

Mike Richards

Good point,

Xerox used to spend a small fortune reminding the public to talk about photocopying rather than Xeroxing a document - not to much avail.

If the word iPad becomes genericised to the extent that even crappy tablets are called iPads then it is Apple that has the real problem disassociating its product from the junk.

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