* Posts by Mike Richards

3587 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Canada founded on 'relentless pursuit of beaver'

Mike Richards

Devious Canadians

It's a beaver disguised as a maple leaf.

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Solar power boom 'unsustainable', says Gov

Mike Richards

Heat pumps

How good are air heat pumps for providing warmth inside a home?

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'Ghost hunter' set to become Tory Euro-MP

Mike Richards

With the likes of Norman Lamont, Nigel Lawson, Norman Tebbitt and John Redwood all recently starring in the ghastly afterlife of Newsnight interviews there does seem to be good reason to think the dark forces of the supernatural are a perfect match for the Conservative Party.

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Machine translation cracks 18th century occult cipher

Mike Richards

The Voynich is more complex than that.

There's the huge problem of how many characters are used - there's almost no agreement about whether some characters are distinct or whether they are actually different characters with ligatures. Estimates vary that Voynichese uses between 20 and 30 characters for the bulk of its text plus a few other rare characters.

Then when you start doing the number crunching odd things begin to appear - there are definitely word-like groups in the text, but the word lengths do not resemble any known language - there are very few short words and very few ones over 10 characters long. Some words are only found in certain parts of the manuscript. Individual words are often repeated either identically or with slight variations - a pattern not usually found in real texts.

The patterns of characters are definitely not random, there are rules about which characters follow others and which do not and whether they appear anywhere in a word or only at the beginning.

When you measure the entropy of the whole text (ie. how predictable the text is), it comes much lower than most European languages, around the same as English or Latin - but neither of those match the previous patterns found in the text.

It most probably is completely meaningless, but a huge amount of work was put into its creation and it would be wonderful to know more about where this thing came from and why it was made.

The best suggestion is that it was an alchemical fake designed to impress the rich and powerful in Central Europe, but there is a frustrating lack of contemporaneous evidence for the book prior to the early 17th Century (we now know from C-14 that the vellum is early 15th Century, but that does not necessarily mean the book itself is that old).

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Sony KDL-40HX723 40in LED 3D TV

Mike Richards

So...

The far side of a grand and they don't throw in any 3D glasses. That's sure to boost sales.

Can't we just agree that 3D was a headache-inducing flash in the pan, scrap it from TVs and make them cheaper?

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Job-seeking university bods panic over incriminating online info

Mike Richards

In short

Facebook's target audience is relaxed about privacy.

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WHSmith Kobo Touch wireless e-book reader

Mike Richards

Kobo

I tried using the Kobo site - once.

I put a stack of books in my shopping cart. Clicked to pay, filled out the details. Got an error message, but was reassured in big friendly letters that I hadn't been billed. Told to try again. Did so, same error message. Gave up, bought the books elsewhere.

A hour later, two receipts from Kobo for the books. Told customer service that I wanted a refund as their site had not worked and had assured me there had been no charge.

Response: all sales are final, no refund.

They edge just ahead of Sony in my league of companies that can go and merrily burn in hell.

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UK shamed in high-speed broadband study

Mike Richards

Still stuck on 2Mbps

The graphs over at akamai are really rather interesting - and once again South Korea just wipes the floor with us with what looks like an average of 13Mbps.

Meanwhile I wish someone from BT would come along and tighten the bit of damp string that connects me to the Intertubes.

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El Reg in SHOCK email address BLUNDER

Mike Richards

Bit of clarification please

Does this mean the email addresses of *all* your registered users have been broadcast to world + dog?

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Mike Richards

So...

...who's been staked out for the scorpions?

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Solar Challenge leaders whizz towards Adelaide

Mike Richards

The Woomera Prohibited Zone

Could anywhere sound more ominous?

Other than Middlesborough.

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ITU heralds ultra-high def TV progress

Mike Richards

The Olympics are always one of the events used to demo new telly tech. The Seoul games were the first real demo of HDTV, featuring live dove roasting in the Olympic cauldron.

Perhaps we can look forward to the same with Seb Coe and Tessa Jowell being sacrificed by enraged taxpayers in a giant wicker Wenlock mascot.

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Blow for McKinnon as extradition treaty ruled 'not biased'

Mike Richards

Thatcher also went ballistic when the US attempted to block Britain from supplying gas turbines for a gas pipeline from the Soviet Union.

She was also willing to tell the US what to d;, it was Thatcher, not Bush who first proposed confronting the invasion of Kuwait, famously saying 'George, don't get wobbly.'

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Pumped-up radio telescope seeks new moniker

Mike Richards

PARIS

Particularly Awesome, Really Immense Space - thing.

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Leo DiCaprio slated to play Turing in biopic

Mike Richards

Sadly you're probably right

I can't imagine the Middle America focus groups accepting a gay man might have helped end World War II. And an English accent will only confuse them if he's neither a member of the royal family nor a super villain.

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Collapsing cranes and cantankerous cars

Mike Richards

It's wonderful

The British one appears to be mostly made of string.

Good luck Durham, but next time please make sure you're photographed smoking boffin pipes.

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Top Tory 'lost voters' personal info' days before ID fraud week

Mike Richards

Alternative explanation

It was a dead letter drop for his Chinese handler.

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And they're off! Day one at the solar races

Mike Richards

The glory of this is that no one is stopping you from running just such a competiiton.

And I'd pay good money to see a train race.

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Winning new UK pylon design may never be used

Mike Richards

But not as nice as this proposal

For the Icelandic power distribution company Landsnet:

http://www.choishine.com/port_projects/landsnet/landsnet.html

We should definitely have these giant stalking things because:

a: they're awesome, but mostly;

b: they'd give Andrew a seizure.

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Back to the Future DeLorean to go under the hammer

Mike Richards

If you're going to be a pedant

It was a Mr. Fusion.

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Mike Richards

GASP!

You stole that idea from me when I mentioned it down at the pub next week!

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Iranian TV claims royals ordered Ofcom to ban it

Mike Richards

Not forgetting...

George Galloway. Who's managed to make an even bigger tit of himself on TV than when he dressed in lycra and pretended to be a cat.

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Mike Richards

RT

They also have more than the minimum number of tottilicious presenters displaying equal amounts of cleavage and knowledge of borscht production in the TransCaucasus.

And have you ever tried watching CCTV's English language news? If it wasn't for the Day Today graphics it's like a time warp back to the days of Vremya (Вре́мя). Lots of marching soldiers and footage of tractor factories.

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Energy minister gives grudging nuke endorsement

Mike Richards

And don't forget

Nuclear is still uneconomic after the taxpayer assumes all the disposal and insurance underwriting costs. Goodness only knows what it would be like if the nuclear industry had to pick up its own costs.

A minister who gave the nuclear industry a ringing endorsement after its relentless failures to bring projects in on time and on budget would be a minister who hadn't read his brief. And judging by the former flag bearer for the whole nuclear industry: Olkiluoto 3 in Finland; we're in for a whole raft of substandard construction, cost overruns (now 50% over budget) and delays (at least 3 years). Strange how the nuclear business has gone so quiet over Finland.

Nice to see the old thorium chestnut again. It's been a while since that brand of snake oil was given a good marketing. There isn't a single thorium reactor operating in the world. There isn't a licensed thorium design in the world. There isn't a prototype thorium reactor operating in the world. Nor is there a reprocessing plant to deal with the thorium cycle, nor even an international agreement to regulate the mountains of highly fissile U-233 which would be produced.

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Gigantic KRAKEN fingered in prehistoric murder mystery

Mike Richards

Beaks

Squid are very poorly preserved in the fossil record as it is, and something this big would be extremely rare anyway, so the chance of finding a beak is practically zero. As a similar comparison, there are no more than six spinosaur skeletons known in the whole world - and that managed to get a starring role in the REALLY bad Jurassic Park sequel.

And to the author; squid and octopuses (the preferred plural) are not only in different orders, but different superorders and shouldn't be used interchangeably - at least not unless the recipe says so.

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Valve chief says Apple will own your living room

Mike Richards

So...

That would be a next gen Apple TV then?

Enable the app store for the Apple TV and perhaps sell controllers (although Apple would probably prefer if we all stumped up for iPod Touches, iPads or iPhones) and they could have a console that would paint Nintendo's next-gen Wii into a corner.

Not one for the hardcore gamer, but good enough for the casual and family market.

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ISPs end PM's web smut block dream

Mike Richards

My experience with school filters is that the children see breaking the filter as a demonstration of their skills.

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Mike Richards

We could use this to kill off the Daily Mail

The aim of the scheme is to prevent children seeing sexualised content. It is backed by the Nation's Nanny, the Daily Mail.

If you ever visit the Mail's site (preferably manipulating your mouse using a barge pole), you'll see that they have a standard page layout of scandal on the left, slappers on the right. Most of the sleb stories feature people in bikinis or underwear. Which has to count as a sexualised image.

So we should all complain to our ISPs and demand they block access to the Mail.

(In the process ensuring a generation can grow up without knowing the horror of Melanie Phillips)

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RIM stands, staggers, falls again

Mike Richards

If it makes you feel better

Apple's MobileMe has come out in sympathy.

Mail has been up and down like a whore's drawers all day.

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Sony asks for 1.6m LCD TVs to be returned

Mike Richards

UK page

Is at:

http://support.sony-europe.com/tvhc/hotnews/hotnews.aspx?site=odw_en_GB&f=inspection_programme

But the links to the service centres and the contact details you'll need to get your TV fixed, are, (typically for Sony), not working right now.

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Mike Richards

Get a grip Sony

Last week they shipped their top-end camera which had been in development for three years with incompatible firmware. Today it's sub-standard components in television. Last month it was PSN...

...is anyone in charge of quality control at Sony?

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Hundreds of websites share usernames sans permission

Mike Richards

WSJ eh?

I find it utterly shocking that a paper owned by NewsCorp has a lax policy on private data.

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Nanotubes, sulfur expand battery storage

Mike Richards

Blame the chemists

Sulfur is the correct, internationally-agreed spelling for element 16. To quote the mad-book:

'IUPAC adopted the spelling sulfur in 1990, as did the Royal Society of Chemistry Nomenclature Committee in 1992.[43] The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority for England and Wales recommended its use in 2000,[44] and it now appears in GCSE exams.[45] The Oxford Dictionaries note that "In chemistry... the -f- spelling is now the standard form in all related words in the field in both British and US contexts"[46]'

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sulfur#Spelling_and_etymology)

If it makes you happier, it's a one-all draw as the internationally agreed spelling for element 13 is 'aluminium'.

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El Reg follows World Solar Challenge

Mike Richards

You may be on to something

Remember this traumatic photo of Lester's son???

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/10/08/paris_helium/

Spangly tops, Australian location - I sense PARIS: The Musical is in the offing.

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Mike Richards

Is Lester on a jolly?

Who's manning mission control and feeding the donkeys then?

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Genetics and technology make Columbus Day a fraud

Mike Richards

Anything between 25 and 40% of Iceland was once forested, mostly with birch. It was felled as you said, not just for timber for construction; but to make room for pasture and to fuel household fires which had to burn year round.

The long planks needed for shipbuilding mostly came from Norway and the UK.

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Mike Richards

Alternatively

Greenland may be a corruption of the Norse 'Gruntland' - 'ground land' a term used to describe shallow inlets in Norse.

Agreed with you about the humour in the Sagas though. Lots of laughs to be had (in between the killing, the misery and the interminable sulking).

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Mike Richards

Wrong boat

That's a longship; Ericson (or Leifr Eiríksson if you want to be accurate) would have used a knarr - a shorter, dumpier, much more sturdy vessel to make the crossing.

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Starbucks extends gratis Wi-Fi to UK

Mike Richards

You came into Starbucks for a coffee?

Interesting.

I assumed they made coffee by applying the principles of homeopathy to warm milk.

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London 2012 Olympics: 17000 athletes, 11000 computers

Mike Richards

Vertical?

Kapoor's piss-poor 'Blackpool Tower come over all wobbly' cast iron eye sore might have been marginally less shite had it been remotely vertical.

As for your 8-year old, does Guantanamo have a kindergarten now?

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Gay-bashing cult plans picket of Steve Jobs funeral

Mike Richards

Agreed.

Unfortunately the Baptist movement has really only paid attention to the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Revelation. The rest of the Bible's teachings are considered optional.

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Mike Richards

They're not so much a cult as a group of lawyers who provoke people into trying to ban protests and then taking them to court under constitutional law.

It's a scam and sadly it's worked well enough for them to make a living out of it.

The only good news is that they promise to picket all sorts of places (such as the funerals of the murdered kids in Norway) and rarely turn up.

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The iPhone 4S in depth: More than just a vestigial 'S'

Mike Richards

YouTube will doubtless be filled very shortly with videos showing how badly Siri copes with the accents of the Tyne and the Clyde.

I was particularly struck by how much time Apple spent on a feature which they admitted would 'get better' - his Steveness would never have sunk to admitting something was less than perfect.

Anyway, what I'm waiting for is to find out if Apple have actually cracked the massive problem of building a phone which can be held whilst making a phone call. I suspect it'll be better than the 4 but even when you get a good connection it'll still sound like a Cyberman in a bathyscaphe.

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Sony: all new PS3 titles will require PSN Pass for online play

Mike Richards

They could probably work it that opening the package constitutes accepting a non-transferable licence between the original purchaser and Sony. The second-hand purchaser will have no such contract and will have to buy a new one.

But it's one hell of a Sony tax for the privilege of buying one of their 'hmmm this console really isn't anything as good as they promised all those years ago' games. Like a lot of peoples' PS3s, mine has been relegated to the role of an okay Blu-Ray player.

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UK punters happy to pay £3 to top up e-wallets

Mike Richards

But... but... but...

The other side of the street is where the chuggers gather.

Packs of them, clipboards and insincere smiles at the ready waiting to ask if you'd like to set up a direct debit to pay for clean water for an abandoned panda in an unvaccinated minefield.

It's hell on the mean streets I'm telling you. Hell!

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NASA: 'Asteroid armageddon less likely than we feared'

Mike Richards

The lump of iron that carved out Meteor Crater was less than 50m across, the blast was in the 10-20 megatonne range and would have made a whole lot of people very mad indeed (those who weren't been very dead of course). It's the smaller city-busting, ocean front property-drowing rocks we should really worry about.

And the even smaller ones which produce a pocket H-bomb sized explosion when they hit. It'd be nice to think we'd do the necessary checks before pressing the red button if one hit a nuclear-tipped country, but I don't have that much faith.

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Adobe: crashing 100 million machines not an option

Mike Richards

Great - so that's the threat of apocalyptic crashing solved. Now how about writing a version of Flash that doesn't routinely suck 80% of a processor to display a simple banner advert?

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Does Gove’s webmail policy breach Data Protection Act too?

Mike Richards

Easy answer

It's Michael bloody Gove - of course he's up to no good.

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Mighty trash-bag balloon cluster soars above Nevada

Mike Richards

But give him credit

He scored a great photo of a textbook alluvial fan.

Sorry it's the geologist in me...

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Electric plane-flinger for US and Royal navies doing well

Mike Richards

I find it hard to believe that the Gerald R Ford will be a useless stopgap.

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