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* Posts by Mike Richards

3578 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

El Reg to unleash rocket-powered spaceplane

Mike Richards
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This is a very, very awesome idea

And will you be asking for sponsorship money from us humble proles in exchange for getting our names stuck all over BRITNEY* ?

* British Rocket Into Troposphere - Not Exactly Yuri.

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Cameron backs public inquiry into NotW hacking claims

Mike Richards
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Off on hols

It was well known that the holidaying Brooks demanded that electronic copies of the paper were sent to her so she could approve them before they went to print.

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Ofcom maps state of UK broadband

Mike Richards
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What does 'average' mean?

I suspect they mean - erm - 'mean' with a few superfast connections dragging the mean upwards. I'd like to know what the median connection speeds are.

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Sunspot decline could mean decades of cold UK winters

Mike Richards
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Correlation does not imply causation

This article sounds awfully like another one written by Lewis a couple of weeks ago where a number of people pointed out that the Thames freezing in winter had more to do with the river being wider, slower and partially obstructed by the old London Bridge.

If the Sun was responsible for the Little Ice Age you'd expect it to be a global phenomenon. Instead it is predominantly a Northern Hemisphere event with its epicentre over the Atlantic and Western Europe.

A better explanation for the Little Ice Age is that it was the result of increased levels of vulcanism in the Northern Hemisphere which continued through to the mid-19th Century. The most dramatic cooling - around the 1690s occurs at just the same time that ice cores from Greenland show a large increase in sulfur content - fallout from volcanic activity.

The injection of ash and sulfur compounds into the stratosphere would account for most of the observed cooling.

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Atlantis crew prepare for the 'Final Countdown'

Mike Richards
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Massive counterweight? Green women?

It'll be Shatner.

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Chinese coal blamed for global warming er... cooling

Mike Richards
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Yep it's right there in the abstract

The article is a very selective reading of the accessible paper which includes the section:

'The finding that the recent hiatus in warming is driven largely by natural factors does not contradict the hypothesis: “most of the observed increase in global average temperature since the mid 20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations (14)'

These compounds are short-lived, they are incredibly reactive with moisture - in the atmosphere and in the human lungs and are stabilised as sulfates within a few months of their release. They don't even have the half-life of massive volcanic sulfur emissions which rise into the stratosphere and remain in circulation for years.

The Chinese and Indians will have to curb their sulfur emissions anyway no matter what effect they have on the climate for one reason.

They kill people.

Look up London smog if you have any doubts why massive sulfur emissions are a bad thing.

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BBC mulls talent Twitter ban to prevent storyline spoilers

Mike Richards
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Agreed - this is a useful warning system

Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Sting, Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant? It's like the Four Horsemen of the Broadcasting Apocalypse.

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Pissed-off elves bombard Icelandic town with rocks

Mike Richards
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'Any arrests yet on that score, I wonder?'

On the subject of investigating the financial crash - yes they've been busy.

Most of the people who brought Iceland to its knees live abroad and the Icelandic justice system is looking at asking for them to be extradited back to Iceland where the locals are flicking through their books of ancient viking punishments.

A number of lower banking officials have been under investigation by a special investigator and are either on trial or awaiting trial for financial irregularities in the run-up to the kreppa, but the big fish is that ex Prime Minister Geir Haarde is on trial for incompetence.

And since you're bound to be interested, the sale of the assets of Landsbanki is likely to go ahead fairly shortly and will either nearly or totally cover the cost of the British bailout to UK investors.

So the big question is, if Iceland can put its crooks on trial, why are the ex-heads of HBOS, Northern Rock and the Whitehall officials who watched the UK's banks go crazy still free?

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Pacific rare-earth discovery: Actually just gigatonnes of dirt

Mike Richards
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Nodules!

This story sounds awfully like all the excitement over manganese nodules in the 1960s and 70s.

For those of tender years; huge areas of the deep ocean are covered with potato-shaped chunks of manganese ore which geologists (being ever creative) called manganese nodules. So in the 1960s everyone got excited that we'd never run out of manganese...

...apart from no one knew how to get the nodules to the surface or to refine them economically, and then we realised we weren't running out of manganese any time soon. Which was good, because any attempt to trawl them from the ocean bottom would have been an ecological catastrophe.

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Samsung NS310 netbook

Mike Richards
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I assumed

You had photos of most high tech movers and shakers in compromising positions with an eclectic range of livestock.

Disappointed if this is not the case.

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Earth orbit for £1,000? You must be joking

Mike Richards
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Balloon

A mylar balloon would be trackable in orbit and not need any batteries or solar cells - the two Echo passive communications satellites in the 1950s were nothing more than huge balloons that reflected radio waves.

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Mike Richards
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Don't be silly we live on a sphere.

We just drop it off Australia and it will fall down into orbit.

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El Reg cuts ribbon on new Special Projects Bureau

Mike Richards
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Lunokhod

How about emulating the Soviet Lunokhod rovers by building a really remote controlled vehicle that children/people can control over the Internet to explore Lester's little hideaway?

Either that or go the whole hog and build a deep frozen aircraft carrier aka. Habbakuk. Doing that in Spain only adds to the irony.

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Mike Richards
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What about an elastic band powered car?

First donkey in space. (Burro Rises Into Troposphere Nerds Eulogy (to) Yuri)

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Mike Richards
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It might just be me

But whatever you do next must end up really, really annoying the Americans.

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'Lion' Apple Mac OS X 10.7: Sneak Preview

Mike Richards
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The dogsbreakfastisation of the Mac continues

God I hate these new interfaces. There's no reason to bring an interface designed for a handheld machine to a 29" iMac other than 'because you can'. Likewise, why on earth does a computer calendar need to look like a paper one? Apple seems to have relegated its interface design to the kiddies who used to skin WinAmp.

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Canada buys Obama's reject Brit choppers for spare parts

Mike Richards
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Didn't Canada also buy

Crappy British submarines?

Come on Canada, you should have learned a lesson that we can't do this death tech.

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Gov piles pressure on News Corp in BSkyB bid

Mike Richards
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Independent director

Murdoch made similar promises when he took over The Times and broke them within months. He knows Hunt 'n co. won't get in the way of his plans.

Now, when's he going to start paying tax on NI's UK's operations?

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Moderatrix kisses the Reg goodbye

Mike Richards
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'I hope you've been training a new Moderatrix?'

Sarah's told us the forums will now be firmly spanked by Jude.

He does not sound like a moderatrix - at least not in my fantasies.

By the way Sarah, if you haven't left yet is there still time to tell you about my fantasies? Sarah? Sarah?

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German vulture detective hits turbulence

Mike Richards
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Release the police pelicans

Personally I think the collective noun for vultures should be 'a gluttony'.

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17 flock to see Gordon Ramsay turkey

Mike Richards
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'Would you have clicked on this story if it had Dougray Scott in the headline?'

Not a chance, but had you mentioned the moustache himself - PETER BOWLES - that would have been another matter.

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Mike Richards
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Good idea

But it must be a children's bedtime book.

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London Olympics shop in Union Jack outrage

Mike Richards
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The other way of looking at this

Is that anyone who bought one of these horrors probably has a nice collectable for The Antiques Roadshow'.

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Mike Richards
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Did they ever get the clock started again?

The official clock in TrafalgarSquare went tits up on the first day of the countdown. Did they ever get someone along to fit a new battery?

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ISS crew man the lifeboat

Mike Richards
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Six people

But I thought Soyuz was only rated for three.

Are they meant to sit in one another's laps for re-entry?

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US Navy invents 'Zero-Power Autonomous' ocean probe

Mike Richards
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Not allowed to do it

It would constitute dumping radioactive material into the ocean which is forbidden by international treaty.

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Freedoms Bill: Gov may U-turn on personal data and DNA retention

Mike Richards
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Can anyone remember the last sane home secretary?

Anyone?

I think it might have been Ken Clarke sometime in the early Mesozoic, but if not you're probably back at Roy Jenkins.

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Sony goes slim with the Vaio Z laptop

Mike Richards
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Huge leap forward from the previous Z

Which had much the same price for an Atom processor.

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600 tonne asteroid in low pass above Falkland Islands - TONIGHT

Mike Richards
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It all depends

On the relative speed of the Earth and the impactor, the angle of incidence and the composition of the meteoroid. A head on collision tends to produce so much energy smaller particles are consumed. Grazing trajectories expose the particles to long periods of heating and they vaporise, and icy or carbonaceous material simply can't survive the deceleration through the atmosphere.

For rock and metal, a rule of thumb is that the very small stuff, like dust, survives intact, Things about the size of a grain of sand to a small piece of gravel burn up as a meteor and almost never reach the surface. Up to a metre they tend to burn up a a fireball, bigger ones may produce a meteorite. Above a metre to 10 metres they usually survive intact to the surface, minus whatever is ablated - but they may disintegrate into meteorite showers. Above that to 100m they tend to explosively fragment into pieces because of deceleration stresses, but large amounts of material will hit the surface. Over 100m and the atmosphere is too insubstantial to slow them and they hit with a catastrophic impact.

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Mike Richards
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Depends...

...on what it is made from.

The size is an estimate from its brightness - although they might have made some direct radar measurements by now. If the body is made from iron-nickel it will be much brighter than a carbonaceous chondrite which are blacker than coal - so a smaller iron-nickel object will appear as bright as a much larger lump of tarry space goo.

And if it was iron-nickel it would stand a reasonable chance of surviving entry to the atmosphere as they are best able to survive the brutal deceleration intact which does for most stony meteoroids.

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dabs.com says sorry for delivery debacle

Mike Richards
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BT in IT-related tits-uppery?

Say it isn't true!

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Dixons reports huge losses of £224m

Mike Richards
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Pixmania

I used them twice. The first time was within a few weeks of them setting up and they were absolutely stellar - great price, fast delivery. The second time was a nightmare; you fill in all your details online, do the credit card bit and then they mail you with a scamtastic request for a passport or driving licence impression. Order cancelled, hello John Lewis.

There isn't a bargepole long enough for me to use either company.

If you're ever flying out of the UK, there is some amusement to be had (admittedly not a lot, but when you're at Heathrow you take what little fun you can get) looking at the Dixons duty-free prices and comparing them to Amazon's.

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Mike Richards
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Jessops

Quite agree. Their prices are eyewatering in comparison to online stores, but if you have a good one the staff can be brilliant for advice. But when they are bad, they are horrid.

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Harry Potter Web-2.0 'Pottermore' offering unveiled

Mike Richards
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You do have to wonder

If JK Rowling has heard of slash-fiction.

As for your prediction of 'within a week' - five minutes tops.

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Comet in bad way after big losses

Mike Richards
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The horror stories are true

And Comet are the worst - their cable brand of choice is none other than Monster - purveyors of overpriced crap for years now. My parents were conned into paying £60 for a set of cables when they bought their first LCD TV. It was the devil's own job to get Comet to accept the return - only when we brought the set back to the store and loudly demanded to see the manager about a refund on the grounds of misselling could we get them to see sense.

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ESA to launch suborbital test spaceplane in 2013

Mike Richards
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It's back to the future

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hermes_(spacecraft)

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Alleged LulzSec hacker still inside

Mike Richards
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Um....

Just because you may have an unspecified mental illness doesn't mean you are unaware of right and wrong. Should he be charged, it will be for his defence to bring the relevant medical information to the court's attention.

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The KILLER MUTANT FUNGUS in YOUR DISHWASHER

Mike Richards
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I thought the cure for fungal infections

Was natural yogurt?

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Mike Richards
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Sometimes thermite IS the answer

Thermite - for those stubborn stains when opening the door a crack and lobbing a grenade in just won't do.

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Has UK gov lost the census to Lulzsec?

Mike Richards
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Deed poll

All in the name Spartacus.

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Oz alkie gets hammered on hospital hand sanitiser

Mike Richards
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Methanol - not a good idea

It's a neurotoxin and easily absorbed through the skin, so it would probably start blinding and killing the hospital staff - this is generally not thought to be a good thing.

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Mike Richards
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Surprising

I'm surprised the stuff isn't laced with a healthy dose of Bitrex to make it completely impossible to drink. Most household chemicals are made deliberately bitter to prevent them being drunk by children or alcoholics.

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Peugeot iOn e-car

Mike Richards
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That interior is very Amstrad

Shiny plastic things wedged in at random.

And the exterior is a bit of a horror too from the gimpy 'smile' at the front to the standing on tip-toes poise - are the French pathologically unable to design a good looking car?

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Saab fingers BAE over South African fighter deal

Mike Richards
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Bofors

The Swedes aren't quite as squeaky clean as you may think when it comes to selling minimalistic and elegant weapons systems:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bofors_Scandal

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30,000 Shreks besmirch BeautifulPeople

Mike Richards
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[Thinks]

Mornington Crescent?

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Mike Richards
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Sounds like a business opportunity to me

Who's up for founding lumpentrolls.com - the social networking site for those 85% of the British population too hideous to join beautifulpeople.com? At just $20 per month you'd even save money.

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Captain Cyborg: Computers are alive, like bats or cows

Mike Richards
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Thanks for the update

Kevin Warwick really is the Geri Halliwell of the computing world isn't he? You're not quite sure why he's famous, you can't remember anything he's ever done and yet he's always with us.

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Apple iMac 27in

Mike Richards
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I have one - only one issue

Annoyingly, the Mac only outputs sound through the speakers when headphones aren't connected (although strangely it will use the speakers to make the booting BONG! noise whether or not there's something connected).

The position of the headphone port on the back right next to the other connectors means its unnecessarily fiddly to connect headphones. It'd be much better if they'd been placed on the side (both sides would have been nice).

Apart from that, it's a stunning machine.

Actually make that two issues - the Magic Mouse is horrible to use - thank goodness for my trusty Intellimouse.

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NAME that DONKEY: Bella bests Barbarella

Mike Richards
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You're right

Whilst donkeys are definitely the most serious looking of all hoofed animals, that one is clearly pondering something.

Possibly wondering if it'll be involved in the next project launched from the Reg's donkey sanctuary / spaceport.

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DARPA issues call for notions on Starship-for-2111 plan

Mike Richards
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Blimey!

'I calculate for 1 tonne moving at 0.1C ( ~40 years) the kinetic energy is ~4.5E17 J . That's equivalent to 14 1000MW power stations for 1 year.'

That's very nearly TWO deep-fried Mars Bars!

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