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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

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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Mike Richards
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There's high concept...

...and then there's the vertigo-inducing, ear-popping, nose-bleeding, blood boiling, near orbit world of DARPA concepts.

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Can Big Blue survive another century?

Mike Richards
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Bit different

Boeing didn't actively court al Qaeda, they didn't set up aircraft production plants, training and maintenance facilities with the organisation. IBM under Thomas Watson was an active and willing supplier of equipment to the Reich long after the persecution of the Jews turned into outright extermination. They even tried to continue operating in the Reich after Germany declared war on America. Watson was a close friend of the Nazi chiefs and was one of the very few foreigners ever to receive a medal from Hitler.

'IBM and the Holocaust' is a devastating and authoritative book on the subject.

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Earth may be headed into a mini Ice Age within a decade

Mike Richards
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Greenland

It was five centuries of settlement from the time of Eirīkr Þōrvaldsson through to the final disappearance of the colonies. Even now it is not certain what happened, only that the colonies were abandoned some time in the late 15th Century. it is still uncertain whether they starved to death, were killed in conflicts with the Inuit or whether they returned to Iceland (although the Icelandic records do not mention the return of the Greenlanders).

Greenland in the Norse period was very slightly more appealing than it is now (i.e. not very) and supported a borderline pasture economy which the Vikings brought from Scandinavia. You grew grass, raised animals, produced milk and ate the animals. But it was very, very marginal. Even in the good years the climate was never good enough to grow arable crops, so all grains had to be imported from their other colonies.

As the climate deteriorated, the Norse stuck to their pasture farming which become ever more unsustainable. They never adapted their lifestyle to one better suited to Greenland, so the colonies gradually dwindled until they failed entirely.

Much the same happened in Iceland, but there, conditions were just good enough that pasture farming could be maintained throughout the Middle Ages, but it was a wretchedly poor place right up until the middle of the 20th Century.

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Mike Richards
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Bzzzt!

@Anonymous Coward

'The Eric the Red story is a fallacy. It is an impossibility for the Vikings to have set up successful and long term settlements and keep them supplied via sea routes. Therefore the settlements must have been able to sustain themselves with home grown crops and herding animals (abundant evidence for this exists). This is something they could not do today therefore Greenland was more hospitable when the Vikings were there.'

The Norse economy was pasture based. Animals grazed in the wild in the summer whilst hay was grown and fed to them indoors in the winter. You see the same in Iceland - and Greenland today.

All other staples (with the exception of fish) were imported. The Greenland records show this was increasingly infrequent as time went by with many of the Greenland Norse not knowing what simple things like bread were.

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Mike Richards
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And the important phrase Mr. Page should have learned at school is..

'Correlation does not imply causation'

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Creationists are infiltrating US geology circles

Mike Richards
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Not just rocks

We also have hammers - big hammers

And volcanoes.

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Mike Richards
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Why 7?

Was one watching the others go at it?

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Mike Richards
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As a geologist...

...I can't see how you could get a GCSE or A-Level in geology, let alone a degree in the subject from an accredited organisation *and* be a creationist.

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Mike Richards
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As always...

talk.origins is your sceptical friend:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-noahs-ark.html#flood

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IATA: this iPad could BRING DOWN A PLANE

Mike Richards
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Turning off your phone

If you are flying in the US or on an American carrier and do not turn your phone off, you are in violation of an FAA regulation and liable for a $2000 fine.

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Cabinet Office talks to Facebook & co about new ID system

Mike Richards
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Face meet palm

Facebook? Just in case I've missed an important news story, is the government proposing to secure our personal information with the same foreign company that relentlessly infringes users' privacy and distributes their information far and wide? Or is there another Facebook out there.

Take a look at Francis Maud, does he look like the sort of person who has the vaguest clue he knows what he's talking about?

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Apple bars WinXP users from iCloud

Mike Richards
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We like authors even more

if they contradict themselves within the same article.

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BP world energy review: Chinese coal drives up CO2

Mike Richards
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Peak coal

China has to diversify its energy supply incredibly rapidly as it's facing an energy crunch in the next couple of decades. Domestic coal production is expected to peak in the next decade and go into a sharp decline, its oil and gas fields are either approaching, or at, peak production and it's seeing a decline in hydropower reserves because of long-term drought. Couple that to the need to keep 10% growth and the challenges they are facing are immense.

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MP claims NotW sleuths targeted royals, politicians, Blair

Mike Richards
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Delightful isn't it?

The man who wanted to put all of his fellow citizens under near constant surveillance finds himself being spied on by his favourite media mogul.

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Nintendo takes control with next-gen games console

Mike Richards
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How many people are still using their Wiis?

The Wii had so much potential, but Nintendo blew it (again) - rehashing the same franchises, and pouring their efforts into attracting the 'casual gamer' that many people simply got fed up waiting for decent challenging content.

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Pixmania users report scam-spam bombardment

Mike Richards
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Yep here too

I got the same email today and it came via an account used for Pixmania about four years ago.

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Tory terror changes promise moon on stick

Mike Richards
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Hairdressers would be a better choice

'So, bombing anywhere nice this year?'

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Mike Richards
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Good point

How do we know they are a success when we don't know how many sites they miss or falsely categorise as bad for our moral health?

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Mike Richards
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I can see this working

And so how are you feeling? Just relax now - hmmm - yes - well maybe take a little more gentle exercise a couple of times a week and perhaps stay off the fatty food to see if that settles down. Now I'm just looking at your blood count - yes that looks quite normal, your cholesterol is fine, no sign of diabetes so nothing to worry about there. So how do you feel about the restoration of the caliphate and have you had any problems passing water?

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BBC Freesat tech switch zaps HD channels from 'old' boxes

Mike Richards
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'We put this on our blog'

To be fair here, the BBC is blameless it's the set-top box people who might have to start forking out money for disgruntled customers now their boxes are not fit for purpose.

BUT this excuse that a message on a web site amounts to a notification to customers doesn't really stick - but it's catching on with all sorts of companies. I'm not sure about the rest of you, but I don't obsessively follow every company I deal with to find out what they're up to.

It's the modern equivalent of putting the note on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.

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Play.com pummelled over purported piracy permissiveness

Mike Richards
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Call the ICO

If you are in the UK the ICO may have the power to fine them:

http://www.ico.gov.uk/complaints/privacy_and_electronic_communications.aspx

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'Great Reversal' as world's forests stage a comeback

Mike Richards
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@Zippy the Pinhead

You do know that the vast majority of eruptions at Mauna Loa occur through the flanks rather than from the Mokuʻāweoweo summit caldera, and that the measurements are adjusted for the rate of outgassing from the volcano.

Thought not.

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1000 day wait for Sarah Palin emails nearly over

Mike Richards
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Research lexicographers are on standby

These emails will introduce more new words to the English language than any time since Shakespeare was in full flow with Romeo and Ethel the Pirate's Daughter. According to boffins we can expect novel grammars, undreamt of phraseologies and perhaps tenses entirely new to English such as the (until now hypothetical) past-future imperfect fifth person.

And that's in one email where she provides the definitive explanation of how Paul Revere's warning to the British allowed General Custer to defeat Lex Luther before the South could bomb Pearl Harbor in order to emancipate the Louisiana Purchase to Adolf Hitler.

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Entire London 2012 Olympics' cultural events database held on Excel

Mike Richards
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Is there more than one spreadsheet?

Because if the second is being used for tickets it might explain the crazy ticket allocations.

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Hot bodies get super-slippery when wet

Mike Richards
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Why?

Coal doesn't go off and the life of wheat stored under proper conditions is months or even years. Why do these freighters need to go faster?

I think he's also forgetting the realities of the shipping market which is to reduce costs as far as possible by only ever using very old, single hulled bulkers manned by third world crews sailing under flags of convenience. Only a few years ago, one of these monsters was sinking every month and no one in power gave a toss until the MV Derbyshire vanished, but since then, nothing's changed.

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New Sony hack exposes more consumer passwords

Mike Richards
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Sony customer advice

If you are a Sony customer and you have not had your confidential information released as yet, could you please give them a call so they can do so immediately. Sorry for any inconvenience.

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Brit rubbish-dump worms in space station science triumph

Mike Richards
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Whilst we're on the subjects of beasties from outer space

Any news on the Shuttle Squid?

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WW2 naval dazzle-camo 'could beat Taliban RPGs'

Mike Richards
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Daily Mail???

'The Perishers' were in the Mirror when it used to be a newspaper.

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Britain mounted secret 2010 cyberwarfare attack on al-Q

Mike Richards
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I rather hope

The spooks are still editing the magazine and dropping in really weird bits of advice - you know - 'have you tried practicing suicide bombing in an uninhabited area just so you know what it feels like'. Then they could add music reviews, a gallery of unusually shaped vegetables, a 'Dear Dierdre' sex advice column and a 'Where's Ayman al-Zawahri?' competition to win £5.

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Tesco pricing cock-up provokes beer stampede

Mike Richards
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Legally...

The price on the shelf only constitutes an 'invitation to treat'. When you take the beer mountain to the till you are making an offer to complete the contract at that price. A contract only comes into being when Tesco accepts your offer and you pay (so called 'consideration'). Up until that point the seller or the buyer can pull out of the negotiations, or change the conditions without prejudice, so Tesco are fully within their rights to say there has been a pricing error and the customer has no legal protection.

Although I hope they issued the check-out staff with cattle prods when they tried to explain this.

Mind you, I wonder if anyone got the lower price on the self-service tills?

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Francis Maude goes back 110 years for cybersecurity strategy

Mike Richards
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No need for the red flag

We've got BT running our walking pace broadband service.

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What is UltraViolet™ and why should you care?

Mike Richards
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I'm going to say this quietly

But Disney are one of the more enlightened DVD distributors. A recent Blu Ray not only came with a DVD, but a download licence through iTunes for only a quid or more than the bare bones DVD. And then, it had the rarest of things - skippable ads and trailers.

Compare that to Momentum who put a completely unstoppable Maltesers ad on their disk.

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El Reg pays by phone – mmmm, free cookies!

Mike Richards
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Important question left unanswered

Was it a nice cookie?

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Biodegradable products are often worse for the planet

Mike Richards
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An even better idea

Make the packaging so delicious that the user cannot help but gobble it up rather than casting it into the garbage.

Sounds hard doesn't it? But many would argue McDonalds have already perfected containers with more flavour and nutrition than their contents.

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3D printer produces working house keys

Mike Richards
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A Cory Doctorow story

http://craphound.com/?p=573

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Mike Richards
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Old chemist trick

Mould a spoon out of gallium and get the victim to stir their coffee with it. It looks like stainless steel but has a melting point of 30C.

Now such hilarity is available to the masses:

http://www.disappearingspoons.com/

Mind you I've been in some labs where the coffee can melt a stainless steel spoon.

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MP headshot sex rating site: Gentlemen prefer Tories

Mike Richards
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Slightly disturbing

That anyone would want to have sex with any of them. Aren't there any items of furniture they'd rather have it off with before turning to the political classes?

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Government plans cyberweapons programme

Mike Richards
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This is Britain

So our masterplan will involve uploading an unpatched copy of Windows ME to bit torrent.

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Reg hack applauds asinine augmentation

Mike Richards
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You've just won the Internet

Stop the competition Lester, this is just too good.

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Naked cyclist streaks through Suffolk village

Mike Richards
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Dubious witness

Wayne Bird, who also copped an eyeful, reported: "I saw a male on a bike with absolutely nothing on, not even a pair of socks."

The article clearly mentions our streamlined cyclist was wearing glasses and a pair of trainers. I don't think Mr. Bird's account can be trusted.

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Bloke drives with knees while manipulating two mobes

Mike Richards
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Hah! Take that...

...and women say men can't multitask.

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Billionaire Zuckerberg kills to eat

Mike Richards
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PETA versus Zuckerberg

This has to happen.

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Fourth Euro star truck christened Albert Einstein

Mike Richards
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I agree

I'd rather they'd named them Truck 1, Truck 2 and so on rather than give them the names of great scientists. It's not a very impressive memento to be filled with odds and sods, emptied, loaded up with sewage and then crashed into the ocean.

I expect Einstein would be more impressed with his element (99) than this thing.

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Ballmer: Time up for 'stuck in the past' Microsoft CEO?

Mike Richards
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Skype deal

What was so odd about the Skype deal is that Microsoft didn't actually say what they were going do with it.

Had they announced the deal and used the same event to say something definite like 'Skype is coming to Xbox Live' then journalists would have at least known what was planned and be able to tell consumers that Skype would bring videophones to millions of living rooms. That buys good headlines, gives the Xbox a boost and should have raised the share price.

It's incredible that a company like Microsoft has such woeful spin doctors.

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Yanks officially recognise the word 'boffin'

Mike Richards
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Not much cop as a dictionary

I just checked, they're still spelling 'colour' wrong.

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Asus teases with MacBook Air-esque Eee PC

Mike Richards
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Outraged!

The laptop lovely was the only thing that made Asus at all interesting and now she's gone.

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Vodafone touts low-tech phone for app-phobes

Mike Richards
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Nice idea - but HOW MUCH?

You can pick up perfectly good Nokia entry level phones on PAYG for twenty quid, so really - why this crazy price?

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Dear Dell and Microsoft: You're not Apple

Mike Richards
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Couldn't be more untrue

Microsoft has nine research labs around the World, they're doing some seriously cutting edge work. If you ever get an invite, go, their work is fantastic and it's beginning to appear in products like Bing, Mindstorms and Kinect.

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Hollywood to 'retell' Carrie

Mike Richards
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Running Man

Another reason you may not have connected King with the book is that it was published under the pseudonym Richard Bachmann. Although wildly different, the book's not much better than the movie, so you aren't missing much.

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