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* Posts by Mike Richards

3578 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

National web-2.0 dogturd photo scheme goes live

Mike Richards
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Alternatively

Couldn't Orange come along and deturdify our streets?

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LOHAN rival to inflate bulging orbs with hydrogen

Mike Richards
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You're missing the vital role of nicotine in boffinry

Most of the modern world could not have been built had boffins not been puffing away on their pipes.

Lester is remaining strangely elusive on the equally vital shed angle of the project.

I like a good shed.

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Mike Richards
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That's my kind of thinking

I'd also insist the whole thing is lovingly lacquered in thermite just to increase the Michael Bayitude of the launch.

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Sulphur-loving microbes might be oldest life

Mike Richards
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C-14

'However I do know that living organisms metabolize radioactive isotopes in a way that dead ones don't, allowing for things such as C-14 dating... so it seems to me to be a valid indicator of 'living organisms''

C-14 is useless for dating almost all fossils as it only has a 5.73ky half-life. IIRC the oldest samples reliably dated using C-14 are only about 60ky.

It can be used to date living and recently deceased organic material because living creatures take up C-14 throughout their life at a known ratio to the stable carbon isotopes. When they die, the uptake of C-14 stops and it begins to decay at a known rate. By measuring the actual ratio found in the sample you can derive an age for the material.

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Mike Richards
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C-12

Living organisms preferentially metabolise C-12 over C-13, so their surroundings tend to show a depletion of C-12. There's a similar change in ratio when organisms metabolise sulfur.

This is a fascinating find as it pushes signs of life back to a point within 400 My of the end of the Late Heavy Bombardment which would have plastered the whole planet with massive craters - but which also brought a sizeable amount of the Earth's water.

There are practically no sedimentary rocks of this age left in the world, so this might be the best we can get for now. Although there is a chance fossils from an older rock could be included in a younger conglomerate or breccia. But pretty much every rock of this age has been through at least one phase of metamorphosis which tends to erase fossils as the rocks get cooked.

There is some evidence of life in even older rocks (3.8 Gy) from the Isua Complex in Western Greenland. Some sequences contain traces of graphite enriched C-12 suggestive that they originally came from sediments including living organisms. However, the Isua rocks are in a greenstone belt which has been heavily metamorphosed into gneiss and they've lost their original sedimentary features and any fossils have been baked away.

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Man builds gadget to silence annoying TV pundits

Mike Richards
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Yep - it was Contact

Agree with the previous AC, it was S.R. Hadden's Adnix which he followed with by the Preachnix that muted religious programming.

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HP chief bows to Jobsian cult

Mike Richards
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Fiorina in 'not worst boss of HP ever' shock?

HP really have made a fist of this acquisition which let's face it means the end of WebOS. If the company who own it have no faith in its ability to shift boxes there's no chance another company is going to license WebOS for their own devices. So it looks like Palm is reduced to a nice set of patents to beat other tech companies about with.

And the other thing is the astonishing rate of consolidation we're seeing right now - Nokia, Motorola and now HP all being rendered more or less irrelevant in mapping the future of mobile devices. And this news must surely lengthen the odds on RIM remaining independent for much longer.

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LOHAN seeks mighty thruster for trip to heaven and back

Mike Richards
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Rockets

Quick question...

Is the lovely LOHAN going to have a tailpipe rocket or tractor rockets? I was thinking (rare I know) that if you used tractors on the end of a long - erm - I'm sure there's a technical name for this, but let's just call it a - stick, with the plane at the far end you might be able ensure the plane is always pointing up and clear of the balloon simply by adjusting the fulcrum about which the plane is suspended so that the rockets always point up and the plane hangs down.

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David May, parallel processing pioneer

Mike Richards
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Tomorrow's World

I think like a lot of people I saw the transputer first of all on Tomorrow's World where it was raytracing a shiny Newton's cradle in real time. Thanks for telling the whole story.

And I couldn't help but think of Transputer last year when an Intel keynote conference talk was spent saying how widespread parallel processing was almost here...

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Range Rover Evoque Si4

Mike Richards
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Re: UGLY

Isn't this the one styled by the mistress of taste and refinement, Victoria Beckham?

Somehow it manages to look expensive AND cheap at the same time by appearing to be styled for rap stars who shop at Clare's Accessories.

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COMET WILL DEFINITELY NOT HIT EARTH – NASA

Mike Richards
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I don't care if it hits or not

I just want to see a really bright comet some point in my lifetime (possibly right at the end just before the impact). We're well overdue one to rival the beautiful comets of the 18th and 19th Centuries.

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PETA to launch .xxx smut site 'to help animals'

Mike Richards
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It'll be filth

Just try to imagine animals - naked.

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HARRY POTTER CHAINED to new Sony reader

Mike Richards
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PRS-650 is here

Although good luck finding one on the high street. Most Sony stores only carry the smaller 350 and I've not seen one in Waterstones since the week of release. They are still officially on sale and you can pick them up online - and you won't regret it. The 650 is a beast with a gorgeous touch screen and fabulous build quality which is only let down by the umbilical to the Waterstone's store. If that could be severed with a rival to WhisperSync then Sony would have the best reader out there bar none.

A UK version of the 950 (or more likely its follow-up) would be very gratefully received in this household.

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Google's Moto move spells iPhone doom

Mike Richards
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Discounting

I'm not sure how a sustainable Android tablet market can be built on discounting unsold stock. It sucks money away from R and D and leaves the vendors even less competitive against Apple. Their current strategy is following the netbook path of 'me too' substandard products towards total irrelevance. Andrew pointed out yesterday the problem with Android tablets is that they look like iPads but they don't work as well.

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Google SHOCK! Snaps up Motorola phone biz for $12.5bn

Mike Richards
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From Larry Page on the Google Blog

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/

'We recently explained how companies including Microsoft and Apple are banding together in anti-competitive patent attacks on Android. The U.S. Department of Justice had to intervene in the results of one recent patent auction to “protect competition and innovation in the open source software community” and it is currently looking into the results of the Nortel auction. Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies.'

Which is a bit of a reversal from Google's public statements a couple of weeks ago that they didn't like the blatant patent grab going on right now.

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New DVD discs claim 1,000 year life

Mike Richards
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Oh bloody hell

The people of the 31st Century will risk the emo equivalent of the Ark of the Covenant when they uncover working copies of the 'Twilight' movies in their archaeological digs. The poor buggers.

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DARPA drops another HTV-2

Mike Richards
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Calling Lester

DARPA really need to get some advice from the Reg's combined space command and donkey sanctuary.

My guess is they'll find the centre of gravity was off by the weight of one Playmobilnaut.

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Heavily-looted mobile phone barns issue 'safety first' missives to staff

Mike Richards
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@Dez666

'Is it not the time that industry/government put some serious effort to make mobiles unattractive to thieves.'

Nokia have been trying hard to make their phones unattractive and unusable for some years now.

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LOHAN team buried under ballockets

Mike Richards
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Maybe the balloon is misleading us?

Perhaps we should ditch the balloon entirely and just use a bigger rocket?

Liquid hydrogen fuelled for maximum hilarity of course.

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Sky wins TV riot battle

Mike Richards
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BBC vs. Sky

I didn't think there was much between the reporting on the two channels, but what was noticeable was that Sky were much slicker at switching to a breaking story or a team on the ground. The BBC was having real trouble linking to crews at the location or even lining up interviews.

The both did well under the circumstances of a massive story breaking across a huge area.

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Italian boffins to robo-grapple space junk

Mike Richards
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Paris Hilton

This is going to be a challenge

Many of these pieces will never have been designed to be grappled, so getting an attachment is going to be difficult, and they will probably be tumbling having never had, or have lost attitude control.

Good luck to them and it sounds like a fun project to work on.

(Paris because she is designed for easy grappling and has attitude).

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Sony distribution centre engulfed by fire

Mike Richards
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In the meantime...

Anyone want to be brand manager for Blackberry?

It's been years since they got this much press attention, sadly now it's all along the lines of 'the mob's favourite phone.'

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Hackers breach chocolate recipe on Hershey website

Mike Richards
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Not floor wax

The distinct tang of Hershey is definitely stale ear wax.

A lardy cloying texture is distinctly a Cadbury's Dairy Milk thing. But the OP is quite right about Hershey chocolate having a nasty chalky texture.

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BBC testing fix for iPlayer on iPad ... 6 months later

Mike Richards
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Audience

I've always assumed there's a huge overlap between the audience for You & Yours and The Daily Mail.

'Today, the hidden peril of doors. Electricity - it sound terrifying, but is it? We investigate further. And at 12:30 we'll have a live studio discussion over the tragic case of Mrs. Volvox who stepped outside at eleven o'clock yesterday evening to find it was dark. What is 'night time' and how do we ban it?'

Mind you, the misery of accidentally tuning into You & Yours is nothing compared to the unspeakable of horror of 'Moneybox Live'.

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Antimatter close to home

Mike Richards
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Setting aside the gruesome image that evokes

The Apollo astronauts reported seeing bright flashes in their vision when they were travelling to the Moon and back. It was suggested this was caused by sub-atomic particles trapped in the Van Allen Belts passing through their eyes.

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Mike Richards
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Ummmm....

A nice idea, except the Vela Incident took place over the Indian Ocean.

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Mike Richards
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[GRIN]

Though it does cause problems for satellites. The ISS has to carry extra radiation shielding for the occasions when it passes through the SAN and the Hubble Space Telescope is shut down for its passage. I'm pretty sure it was also linked to the repeated failures of a number of low-orbit comms sats.

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NASA's Juno roars off to Jupiter

Mike Richards
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You're right...

...but it's actually a magnetometer.

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Can you handle LOHAN's substantial globes?

Mike Richards
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payload on top

Is that even stable?

Maybe the nearest aerodynamicist can put me right, but wouldn't a weight on top and a weight on the bottom just mean that with the slightest disturbance the balloon rolls over until the two weights are more or less horizontal?

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Mike Richards
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That sounds really sensible

The only difficulty with that suggestion is making sure the plane doesn't tumble when it released, but it sounds relatively simple and would avoid too much spin damage on the way up.

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Martian water slides caught on camera (maybe)

Mike Richards
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Wind doesn't seem likely

I'm not sure.

These images are from a crater wall in the southern hemisphere pointing north in the summer, so it gets the full heat (hah) of the Martian summer. You'd expect that to produce a convection of air up over the rim of the crater - opposite to the pattern we're seeing here.

Also, when you put the graphic over a 3D terrain, you don't see any of the tell tale swirls that you normally associate with windblown debris, these lines are going straight downhill:

(long URL approaching)

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/mro/multimedia/images/?ImageID=3580&NewsInfo=59C884BFF2B8E0EFC8DB07B94F94BA55AC4A8F9603007CD8CA4D50EBAAD2D883DF99DED8EDD0DF46C0599EE2C2EF940CC2CED306DC461CEBDB1FCDC80B64D73904CAEF4AC312CFCADF0D13D2CED22FC5B6C7ADF9CDE1D1DED5CF8ACA150D4C12D642D29B4C46266CC351DB91C41CA9845C

There's still a chance this could be liquid CO2 seeping out of the permafrost, it would be able to transport material downhill, but it wouldn't leave any tell-tale traces for the orbiter to pick up. But then, liquid CO2 is not normally found in these conditions.

I wonder if ESA can point their Mars Orbiter towards Newton crater any time soon.

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Death haunts government petitions site

Mike Richards
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What a shame the NotW is no longer with us

The delicious Rebekah Brooks could have started a whole new 'Death to Paedos' petition had things not gone quite so spectacularly tits up for her and NI.

And a correction to the original article. The government has not promised that any petition which gets 100,000 signatories will be debated, they have said it 'may be debated'.

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Mike Richards
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The Daily Mail

'Why is it that the Daily Mail is vociferous in support of penalties for certain crimes, but not so much for others (phone hacking)? '

You have to remember the same deranged moral compass that once had the Mail printing "Hurrah for the Blackshirts" has driven them on to the ideological rocks of the 1950s when everyone loved the Queen, there were no beastly foreigners around, everyone went to church and Europe could still be cut off by fog in the Channel.

There was a death penalty in the 1950s so we need it back. And only nice proper people had telephones back then and they'd never dream of listening to someone else's messages, so why the fuss now?

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NASA Legonauts set for Jupiter voyage

Mike Richards
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At a guess

The plastic used by LEGO might not be capable of withstanding the heat, cold and radiation Juno is going to experience.

But I'm with you on wanting a set for myself (LEGO is far too good for children)

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Columbia debris emerges from Texas lake

Mike Richards
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Well if you're going to ask

http://santoki.files.wordpress.com/2007/01/bush_golf2.jpg

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Reg readers ponder LOHAN's substantial globes

Mike Richards
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We're going to need a bigger balloon

Does the plane need to be directly beneath the balloon? Instead couldn't you have a horizontal boom suspended from the balloon with the plane on one end and a counterweight on the other. Fire the plane up at an angle before the balloon bursts and it should clear the rest of the vehicle.

Either that or dump the balloon entirely and build a bigger rocket to create your very own Dynasoar. The rocket, of course, would have to fuelled with liquid hydrogen for maximum hilarity.

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HTC sues Apple in the UK

Mike Richards
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So...

A Californian company is being sued by a Taiwanese company in the UK. Why exactly? For the air miles?

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'Missing heat': Is global warmth vanishing into space?

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Canon EOS 600D 18Mp DSLR

Mike Richards
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Stop making them smaller

These cameras are just too small for me - and I don't have huge hands. I've got a Sony A700 which is a pretty old camera now, but it has a nice chunky design, generous grip and enough heft that the lens doesn't unbalance it unduly. I'm looking to replace it, but none of the cheaper dSLRs have the same sort of bulk.

But it looks like the powers that be have decided that if blobby shapes and saggy shoulders are good enough for the British physique, they're good enough for cameras.

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BSkyB hands out £1bn, board backs James Murdoch

Mike Richards
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And since they're doing so well

Perhaps they'd like to start paying some tax on their income?

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UK's first Stealth fighter in successful catapult test

Mike Richards
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Still going to be expensive

The USMC is only committing to 80 C aircraft which will result in them being more expensive than if the airframes had been made from the finest gold leaf hand-rolled on the thighs of Cuban women and then liberally sprinkled with sapphires. (I have no idea if this is how you go about making an aircraft by the way).

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Jupiter spacecraft mounted atop bloody big rocket

Mike Richards
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Debt ceiling

A dodgy bloke with a fag hanging from his lip comes round and clamps the rocket.

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Mike Richards
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Good point

And the engines on this beast happen to be Russian, originally developed for the N1 super rocket of the 1960s.

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UK Govt refuses to ban shale gas 'fracking'

Mike Richards
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Thank-you Conservatives

The UK government encouraged companies to drill our side North Sea as quickly as they could with the result that the UK sector is the fastest oil producing region ever brought on stream. It is also now the one declining the fastest.

But for a while it was nice, all that money covered up the collapse of our manufacturing industry and paid for millions to be put on to long term benefits.

The Norwegians sensibly decided to manage their oil production through Statoil with the government pension pot taking the proceeds. The result being that not only does Norway still have lots of oil under the sea, but it is sitting on half a TRILLION dollars of assets that will keep on generating income when the wells run dry.

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US Navy orders laser machine guns

Mike Richards
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Anyone noticed?

It was about the time BAE became heavily involved in selling weapons to the Americans that the US economy went tits up?

Just saying...

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Russia: 'We'll dump the ISS into the sea after 2020'

Mike Richards
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That's a big job

Where do you start?

The ISS is in an inclined orbit, geostationary requires one aligned with the equator. Changing inclination is a big job,

About half of the energy used to lift a kilo to geostationary orbit is used getting it into low orbit, the remainder is used in the transfer to the higher orbit. So take whatever energy its been to assemble the ISS and double it.

You'd then have to contend with the fact the ISS would lie outside the inner Van Allen Belt and would be exposed to more radiation and necessitate its crews being exposed to a healthy dose of whatever the Sun coughed up a few days ago.

And finally, we don't have any manned vessels that can get there.

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Mike Richards
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Fox News

I didn't know they reported on science and engineering for fear of upsetting their core demographic who are not quite ready for the breaking news that the Earth isn't flat, isn't six thousand years old, wasn't made by God and isn't centred around Sarah Palin.

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LOHAN: She's low orbit and helium assisted

Mike Richards
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It should definitely be inspired by the lovely Ms. Lohan

And come without any undercarriage.

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Apple Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Part Two

Mike Richards
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It's a nice OS, but there's still so much wrong

There are the atrocities of the Address Book and iCal whose interfaces are utterly broken by the insistence on copying real world alternatives.

Finder is still a dog. The left-hand pane listing foldings and drives is much harder to read now it has been stripped of all colour and contrast. And they still haven't fixed the basics of how data is presented in the Finder, the appearance of folder contents is still entirely random - will it be a list? a set of icons, a preview - who knows? That's the excitement / frustration of Mac OS.

And then there are the wretched animations that can't be switched off. Windows zooming out of nothing circa mid 1980s GEM and the drives me to distraction bunny-hop of a new Mail message window.

I wish Apple would get some real interface designers to work on their products rather than the kiddies who knocked up this monster.

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Winklevoss twins' new Facebook lawsuit rejected by judge

Mike Richards
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End this already

If the Winklevosses keep this up much longer they will achieve the near impossible and turn Mark Zuckerberg into a sympathetic figure.

Guys, you got $65 million for having an idea and nothing more. I call that a pretty good payment. Now go off and play in your boats.

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