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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Cabinet Office shakes up PSN

Mike Richards

Oh *that* PSN

I was just wondering how Sony's problems could get worse and that seemed to be the answer.

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Virgin Media TV Powered by TiVo

Mike Richards

Any chance of an unbundled version?

I'm a big fan of TiVo and loved my UK series 1 before it shuffled off this mortal coil. Sadly I don't live anywhere near a Virgin cable network so this won't work for me.

Does anyone know if Virgin have an exclusive deal with TiVo or is there any chance that other companies will be bringing out TiVo Freeview/sat boxes?

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ESA: British Skylon spaceplane seems perfectly possible

Mike Richards

Only the beginning

It'll be followed by the 'Mysteron' whose voice will have you soiling your pants right across the Atlantic.

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Mike Richards

Not corrosive - but...

Liquid O2 will make almost anything burn. In the 1950s the Americans had a number of nasty fires and explosions when liquid oxygen boiled out of their Thor missiles and dripped on to asphalt.

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Mike Richards

Twelve billion? Cheap at twice the price.

For that investment we could create thousands of high technology jobs, countless spin-offs and grab a lucrative market. It's almost petty change when government spending is concerned.

We're going to spunk three times as much on the next generation of Trident submarines and it's only a little more than next year's running and jumping show.

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Google opens tiny window onto Baltic Sea-cooled data center

Mike Richards

A typo surely?

'According to Data Center Knowledge, the pipe that streams the water from the gulf is about 7.5 miles below the surface of the Baltic Sea and connects to granite tunnels running to the data center.'

I don't think so. 7.5 miles is a smidgeon over 12km. Even at the lousy geothermal gradient found in the Baltic, the bottom of the well would be at over 100C.

The deepest point of the Baltic is only 450m below sea level, the deepest point in the oceans (the Challenger Deep) is 10911m. If the reporters had got it right, Google would be within a gnat's whisker of taking the record from the Kola superdeep borehole which is a stupendous 12.3km deep.

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Researchers find irreparable flaw in popular CAPTCHAs

Mike Richards

Absolutely

Get the buggers to crack the Voynich Manuscript - THEN they can post their amusing cat photos.

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Ofcom pricks Shard's 'biggest erection' boast

Mike Richards

In that case

At 368m, the Fernsehturm in Berlin is still taller than anything in the UK.

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Much better wireless power transmission possible - boffins

Mike Richards

Here it is (was)

Well remembered sir, it was Wardenclyffe Tower on Long Island:

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

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Judgment Day prophet resets doomsday clock

Mike Richards

Makes perfect sense really

Camping clearly underestimated the length of time it takes to spend his ill-gotten $70 million.

So, is everyone ready for The Great Disappointment 2.0?

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Lock up your lungs, here comes Grimsvotn

Mike Richards

The only people breathing easy

Are the news outlets who only have to deal with Grímsvötn rather than eighteen syllables sounding like a Viking falling down a flight of stairs. Set your videos for when Þeistareykjarbunga next blows its top.

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Huge fat pipe squirts mighty streams

Mike Richards

Smut hose? kilowrist?

Well done Lewis for translating boring boffinry into everyman terminology. And to think it's only Monday, you should be in fine form come Thursday.

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Apple iPhone 5 to sport CRT-style screen

Mike Richards

Fragile?

I haven't used a phone with this sort of display, but wouldn't a curved display be more likely to be damaged when the phone is dropped?

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Rapture postponed as world inexplicably fails to end

Mike Richards

Thank you Sarah

This guy is being treated as a harmless nutter when he is actually culpable for a great deal of distress and misery; and not just to his deluded followers, but to their friends and family (who may not be believers) who will have had to deal with the consequences of his actions.

Obviously I'm sure he'll be returning all those millions just as soon as the banks reopen.

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Remastered 4K, 3D Titanic steams towards cinemas

Mike Richards

Worth seeing in 3D

If only for the scene near the end where Leonardo diCaprio sinks further and further away from the viewer into depths of the North Atlantic.

(Have I given anything away?)

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PARIS team to tackle the ultimate post-pint snack

Mike Richards

Ultimate post-beer take away

[you are now arriving in Reykjavik, please ensure your seat is in the upright position]

Follow Miklabraut westbound past the city airport until it turns to Hringbraut; the BSI bus terminal is on your right. Take the short road to the car park behind the terminal where you will find a small take away (offering a drive through service if you are very lazy) selling burgers, pylsur and the like. But you want to go for the special...

Half a sheep's head with chips and cocktail sauce.

No, that's not an onion in the eye socket...

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Mike Richards

It'll be hard to beat the Canadians

They have poutine - greasy chips covered in cheese curds and then gravy. It's hard to describe, except that similar things, only less fatty, were being washed ashore along the Gulf of Mexico last year.

There's a horrific close-up on everyone's favourite fact-free zone:

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

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Council of Europe wants to maintain net neutrality

Mike Richards

And the crystal ball says...

Jeremy Hunt will reject these proposals on the grounds that it will 'undermine Britain's successful media industry' / 'upset uncle Rupert'.

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Planet with British weather found 20 light years away

Mike Richards

And what have NASA just fired into space?

Squid would laugh at 25g - and still sucker your face off into the bargain.

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CATS to be saved by BLASPHEMERS after the RAPTURE

Mike Richards

Can they look after my pet?

He's quite unique what with his 'seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name'

Answers to the name Mr. Sprinkles.

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NASA's asteroid hunter creeps up on Vesta

Mike Richards

Sheep in a vacuum

After Lewis' story yesterday, shouldn't we consider revising the standard and base it on squid, which are at least decimal?

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Home Office appoints Brokenshire as security minister

Mike Richards

Brokenshire?

It sounds like a place BBC News would make up to chart social decline.

Oh well good luck to him in the thankless job of explaining the government's security knee jerks to the world.

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Train firm offers phone-based ticketing across UK

Mike Richards

Well done Chiltern

Now, is there any chance of DB picking up a few other train operators around the country? I'd especially like First Great Western to vanish into history to be replaced by a competent company who might be willing to - oh and let's get radical here - buy new trains???

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Shuttle mission: SPAWNING of the SPACE KRAKEN

Mike Richards

Cosmic calamari Batman!

We're sending Cthulu back home.

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What Carthage tells us about Amazon, Fukushima and the cloud

Mike Richards

'that's why the Romans ploughed the fields of Carthage with salt'

Just to be picky, no they didn't.

Nice article though, thanks.

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Canadian kid uses supercomputing to cure cystic fibrosis

Mike Richards

Vegetarian sorbet

Well here's prior art which I make on a regular basis.

500g caster sugar

250ml fresh lemon juice (that's about 6 large lemons)

Zest if you like more lemony goodness

Dissolve the sugar in 750ml water and simmer for a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lemon zest. Allow to cool.

Add the lemon juice. Put in the fridge until really cold.

Place the mixture in an icecream maker and churn until it starts to solidify. If you don't have a machine place in a shallow dish and freeze for an hour. Give it a good forking (fnarrr) to mix the ice with the unfrozen goop. Freeze again for another hour, repeat a couple more times until it is completely slushy. Whisk vigorously then freeze. It'll keep for up to a week in the freezer.

I suspect the cure for cystic fibrosis is somewhat more complex.

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Mike Richards

Not always

You can make a lighter sorbet by adding beaten egg white. But it's not worth it.

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NASA restores Pluto to league of planets

Mike Richards

IAU definition

Is bollocks and I can't imagine it won't be revisited before long. Under their own definition (that a planet must have cleared its own orbit) neither Neptune nor the Earth constitute planets.

A better definition would be something along the lines that a planet is a non-luminous body orbiting a star which has sufficient mass to form a spheroid.

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Cable thieves cost UK rail £15m a year

Mike Richards

Yep!

And fine them the full cost of refunding every passenger who was late.

(Although you'd have to be VERY late indeed to get a refund from our oh-so-wonderful railway companies).

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Space shuttle Endeavour finally off next Monday

Mike Richards

Not happening

There were plans to bring back Hubble but these were canned on the grounds of expense and that the Shuttle could not abort to the ISS if there was a failure during the mission. Another plan was to attach a booster that would have shoved Hubble either into a safer higher orbit, or down into the atmosphere for a controlled re-entry. This also didn't go ahead.

Instead a better attachment point for future missions called the SCRS was placed on the telescope. The next mission to Hubble (which no one has a clue about) will be to deorbit the telescope. Currently, Hubble will be decommissioned sometime between, and you've got to give them credit for narrowing it down, 2013 and 2021 - the latter being when it will definitely re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.

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Mike Richards

Doesn't work that way

The Shuttle's components aren't designed for very long durations in space. Just to get you started, the tiles would get dinged by micrometeorites (and larger stuff) and various plastics and rubbers would degrade from atomic oxygen.

And what use would it be going to Mars? There's no runway for it to land even if it could be brought down to a reasonable speed after entry to the very thin Martian atmosphere.

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IPCC report: Renewables can never meet energy demand

Mike Richards

Which won't help

Since developing nations can't afford to buy reactor technology anyway.

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Ten... fantasy gadgets you wish you owned

Mike Richards

Already invented

and it's called the hydrogen bomb.

Having said which, there are some minor wrinkles regarding the range of its effects, the unavoidable millions of fatalities and unfortunately persistent fallout which still have to be ironed out; but I can say with 100% confidence that you will never have to worry about mobile phones or personal stereos ever again.

It's also great for getting stones out of horses hoofs, warding off dangerous dogs, sterilising river water and attracting attention if you are lost in remote areas.

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Elite coder readies £15 programming gadget for schools

Mike Richards

Good luck David

I'm part of a project to design and release a small piece of educational hardware which is just about to go into mass production. I'll be very impressed if the RP can be built and shipped for just £15 unless they can make them in batches of tens of thousands at a time.

If they can, then there is no reason why every kid can't have one for their GCSE project and have ridiculous amounts of fun. Just so long as us grown us are allowed to have them too.

But one thing they must do before going any further is burn Elite into the ROM.

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MIRACULOUS new AIRSHIP set to fly by 2013

Mike Richards

Zeppelin thought of that

The original design for the Hindenberg would have used hydrogen 'anti ballast' held in relatively small gas bags buried within the much larger helium-filled lifting bags. As the ship burned fuel, hydrogen would have been vented, reducing the lift.

For all sorts of reasons, mostly to do with the cost of securing helium, the design was abandoned for a single set of gas bags.

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Boffins herald end of stiff screens

Mike Richards

Silly question

Paris will never be obsolete.

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Dear Mr Beefy ex-soldier: Your BT needs you

Mike Richards

Surprisingly...

...BT haven't thought about recruiting more ex-sergeant majors into their telephone technical support. They'd offer much the same welcoming attitude BT has already perfected when you call to complain.

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Goodyear blimps to be replaced by German Zeppelins

Mike Richards

Helium

Helium was controlled by the US military as a military resource. There was no open market in its sale, so any exports had to be approved by the military as well as the American government. As a result, almost no helium had been exported from the US by the 1930s.

It's something of a myth that the Americans refused to supply helium to the Hindenberg. When she was being designed in the wake of the R101 catastrophe there was a proposal to use helium as her lifting gas and hydrogen anti-ballast to compensate for fuel consumption. However, she was redesigned at an early stage as an all hydrogen ship for a couple of reasons; helium was hideously expensive and the Germans were reluctant to spend hard currency on obtaining an alternative to cheap domestic hydrogen, and secondly, Zeppelin had never lost a passenger ship to hydrogen fires. When the R101 report was finalised and it was shown the British had built a bad airship, there seemed to be no case for helium.

Zeppelin only formally applied for permission to obtain helium after Hindenburg burned. Hugo Eckener, who headed Zeppelin, personally lobbied Roosevelt for helium supplies to inflate the second Graf Zeppelin and Roosevelt agreed. However, in the meantime (it was now mid 1938), Germany annexed Austria. The US Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, considered Germany a potential threat to the US and blocked the sale of helium. The second Graf was inflated with hydrogen.

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Mike Richards

'Come on, no zep ever got above the clouds!'

Oh yes they did.

During World War I the Germans built so-called 'height climber' Zeppelins to try and fly over British air defences. They routinely bombed from over 6000m being hidden from ground defences by a layer of cloud - as you can imagine, their error margin was something like a county. The altitude record for one of these Zeppelins is over 8000m.

As for the height climbers, they were only able to fly that high by being incredibly fragile, meaning they couldn't manoeuvre well at low altitudes* and they couldn't overcome rapid improvements in aircraft and anti-aircraft guns.

* The British R38 was a copy of a height climber. She broke up and exploded over the Humber during low altitude manoeuvres just after being accepted into the US Navy as the ZR-2.

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Freeman Dyson: Shale gas is 'cheap and effective'

Mike Richards

'It can't be that expensive to be done on an industrial scale'

Unless you live in an area with an exceptional geothermal gradient, geothermal power is just not economic. In most of the world the gradient is a measly 15C per kilometre; successful geothermal plants have needed gradients of five or even ten times that - and even then they need boreholes a couple of kilometres deep.

Then you don't just drill one borehole, you drill hundreds, plus plenty more return wells to pump the water back down into the earth - not only because it helps keep the reservoir full, but also because it tends to carry an unhealthy dose of heavy metals, sulfur and carbonates.

In the right places (Iceland, the Philippines are stand-out examples), geothermal is almost as cheap as hydropower; and has the benefit of producing lots of hot water for domestic heating. There are more marginal sites (Cornwall being the best in the UK) where there is some potential for geothermal power, but sadly it won't ever be useful for most of us.

BTW. Did I miss Andrew's long article about the Cornell research into the emissions problems of shale gas?

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Star Wars: From dream sci-fi bride to perfect Blu-ray wife

Mike Richards

I thought...

Lucas had said that the special editions (the ones with all the CGI buggeration) were the definitive versions of the movies and that the original ones would never be released?

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Boffins develop liquid crystal solid-state raygun turret

Mike Richards

Erm...

Carefully..?

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Mike Richards

Not forgetting

It all gets much easier if you assume your shark is spherical.

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Honda Jazz Hybrid

Mike Richards

Bless

It's nice to see the 'English as a seventh language' crowd are here practising their skills.

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Space shuttle Endeavour launch delayed until at least May 8

Mike Richards

How many components are there in the Shuttle?

It runs into the hundreds of thousands, every one of which has a likelihood of failure, put enough of them together it's incredible that a machine of this complexity can ever be made to work. The Shuttle is probably too complex, but it is far from ramshackle.

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Beyoncé sued over aborted videogame deal

Mike Richards

If this is true

Beyoncé is well-positioned for the 2011 Naomi Campbell Person of the Year Award.

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PlayStation Network credit cards protected by encryption

Mike Richards

Encryption - yay!

Though knowing Sony it was a Caesar Cipher.

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Mike Richards

Email

None of my friends with PS3s nor myself have received emails either. 77 million emails is a lot, but Sony's new pals in the criminal underworld seem to be able to send that many in a lot less than a week.

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Revealed: Secret security plan should Kate leave Wills at the altar

Mike Richards

Thumbs up - you've earned your beer

But there'd better be a PlayMobil recreation of tomorrow's gushtastic events for those of us who are naturally intolerant of wall-to-wall fawning and cringing from the likes of Nicholas Witchell and Vernon (I am so not making this up) Kaye*.

Feel free to add velociraptors and shape-changing robots to the guest list if it promises to make things more interesting.

* Memorably described this week by Marina Hyde as the missing link between the BBC and the vegetable kingdom.

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London Olympics ticket grab ends with website wobbles

Mike Richards

Fantastic system

They take the money from you but only inform you what you've got a MONTH later? If only there was a machine that could authorise purchases and issue receipts within seconds...

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