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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Southampton Uni shows way to a truly open web

Mike Richards

Well in a way he does

It's just that Zuckerberg's approach involves putting the whole world inside Facebook without any privacy controls.

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Radioactive Tokyo tapwater HARMS BABIES ... if drunk for a year

Mike Richards

On the upside

Iodine is used to sterilise water.

So your baby might glow in the dark, but it won't get an upset tummy

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BAA promises to get its Heathrow act together

Mike Richards

Do they have special classes

That train adults to say: '"If the entire Heathrow community learns from this report, and works more collaboratively to promote passengers' interests, then this is a pivotal moment for the airport and its reputation."' with a straight face?

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Government shells out £2m for ID card compo

Mike Richards

Bless!

Ex ID card supremo Meg Hillier just can't let ID cards go can she? There really should be a support group for her to deal with these distressing separation issues.

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Mike Richards

Alan Johnson's scorched earth policy

Didn't Postman Al introduce the termination charges very late in the day when it was clear Labour were going to lose the election and that both opposition parties were committed to scrapping the scheme.

I wouldn't be surprised if similar charges were put on the two magnificent ocean-going white elephants being erected in Gordon Brown's backyard.

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Channel Islands VAT loophole shut, petrol prices cut

Mike Richards

In which case

Judging by the monumental screw-ups previous Chancellors have produced thanks to their sound grounding in economics, it might be better for the country if we excluded anyone who claimed to be an economist.

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BT, TalkTalk in court seeking axe for Digital Economy Act

Mike Richards

Nice idea except

Mandelson's creepy little shadow minister, Ed Vaizey, was all in favour of the DEA. Neither he nor Jeremy Hunt will want to upset the content teat for fear of not being invited to all the most slebtastic of parties.

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Mike Richards

But give them some credit

Their accounting methods are nothing if not creative.

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South West Trains puts squeeze on commuters

Mike Richards

Shinkansen

In Japan if your bullet train is more than (IIRC 2 minutes) late, not only do you get a full refund, but a written apology and a letter you can give your employer.

Having said that, you could set your watch by the Shinkansen.

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Mike Richards

SWT = RyanAir

The world's least favourite airline and the world's ugliest liveried trains have the same width seats.

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Mike Richards

Clearly

You've never been on the laughably named TransPennine Express. Overcrowded by the time it leaves Manchester (or Leeds).

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Mike Richards

Teresa Villiers

Was on 'Dispatches' this week saying how awful the trains were but how it was nothing to do with the Transport Minister because it had all been privatised doncha know and she was just there to pay £5 billion a year over to the assorted shysters (First Great Western), bus companies (Stagecoach) and banks (HSBC) that run our railways.

I just wish SNCF or DB would come over and run the whole thing.

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Mike Richards

London Midland

I'm sure London Midland has been using 3 + 2 seating on its cattle cars for a couple of years now. They're incredibly uncomfortable for anyone of average height and build. When you then add the lack of places to put luggage and coats, they're oppressive.

On a related note, I was wondering earlier this week if rail companies are in breach of their obligation to offer a safe railway by forcing people to stand on high speed services. In the event of a crash or catastrophic derailment the casualties would be horrific. Anyone know?

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Fukushima's toxic legacy: Ignorance and fear

Mike Richards

Strangely enough

Sky News hasn't been running an uninterrupted scareathon about the perils of coal following yesterday's tragedy in which 43 miners were killed. Nor has Matt Frei been backed by crappy computer animations of how wood smoke kills more than 1.5 million people every year.

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Mike Richards

Not quite sure how this qualifies as a 'minor incident'

4.7GWe of power generation has been completely trashed and will never restart. Factories and homes are experiencing lengthy blackouts and disruptions to production. Thousands of people are temporarily homeless. Other nuclear plants are going to need repairs and probable safety improvements to ensure backup power cannot be lost ever again.

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Fukushima: Situation improving all the time

Mike Richards

Quietly reworded

I wish the BBC would allow us to see the changes made to an article after posted. Right now it reads:

'The official death toll from the quake and tsunami has now risen to 8,450.'

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Mike Richards

We also had a geiger counter

And our physics lessons on radiation were rendered useless, by the standard sources being less radioactive than the Cornish granite walls.

If anyone hasn't seen it; the XKCD comparative radiation chart is a superb illustration of the amounts of radiation being talked about:

http://blog.xkcd.com/2011/03/19/radiation-chart/

I had a CAT scan last month, judging by the dose I received I should be developing superpowers any day now.

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Mike Richards

Come on be fair

The BBC has also run a 'nuclear disaster - did the media overreact?' story. Admittedly nowhere did they suggest that their meldownathon coverage might have had anything to do with scaring people half to death.

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Fukushima on Thursday: Prospects starting to look good

Mike Richards

Some good news

Tepco is planning on have restored a grid connection to the site by the end of today (Japan time), after which any surviving electric pumps can be restarted, which should make things safer, if not quite as lovely as Lewis is suggesting.

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Jon Bon Jovi accuses Steve Jobs of murdering music biz

Mike Richards

Four things

The killer for a lot of people was when the multiples came to every high street.

The independents were where you could actually hear music, talk to people who knew what was coming, what was good and (hush) what wasn't. Even very small towns could have two or three independent stores.

The multiples like HMV and Virgin started off with lots of choice and seemed to be a better version of the independents as they offered even more choice. But now they're being eaten alive by the supermarkets and Amazon they've gravitated to pushing a few big names, the staff are all minimum wagers making ends meet with no particular enthusiasm for what they're selling, and their management have a background in generic retail rather than this business.

If anything, iTunes has brought back something of the experience of stumbling across something awesome. Although the aseptic iTunes Store interface doesn't really look much like those endless stacks of vinyl in a gloomy shop the size of a child's bedroom pervaded by the smell of something that probably wasn't tobacco smoke.

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EA dubs Nintendo Wii a 'legacy platform'

Mike Richards

Maybe, but...

...it got Nintendo back into the living room console market and got people talking about the company and its products. They forced Sony and Microsoft to innovate, but unlike PS3 and 360, the Wii was profitable from day one. Whilst Nintendo was banking money, the other two were being forced to spend big money to catch up.

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London's Olympic clock claps out

Mike Richards

Inexplicably

The BBC and Sky haven't cut to endless speculation of what will happen if power can't be restored.

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Fukushima update: No chance cooling fuel can breach vessels

Mike Richards

A bit of a mixed bag

What has probably given people in the know nightmares is that computer simulations of BWR failures show that small containment structures incorporating pressure suppression measures such as tanks, wet wells or ice condensors, offer much less security than the alternative design of a large heavy containment vessel. The small containments at Fukushima have a much greater risk of failing in the event of a catastrophic steam explosion or the high pressure ejection of the molten core - both of which could happen in a BWR.

The good news is, as Lewis points out, the production of energy in the reactor is rapidly diminishing, and with every hour the risk of further melting recedes. The reactors are slagged, but it looks like the vessels have held.

Where I disagree with Lewis is that the lesson of Fukushima is not to build more reactors now, it's to sit down and look at reactor designs and see if we need to learn lessons from this tragedy. Since we don't know the precise sequence of events that led to the loss of all off-site and on-site power for the pumps it is probably worth finding out what went wrong before proceding with new build. Fortunately we're not going to be building any more 1960s vintage reactor or containment designs; but that doesn't mean it isn't worth looking long and hard at what happened here and improving things further.

Right now, I'd be looking at CANDU reactors, not just because the Canadians are nice people, but because we could start building them as soon as possible, they work, they work well and they're safe.

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Balanced, neutral journalism is RUBBISH and that's a FACT

Mike Richards

Bad news for Fox News

They'll have to stop using the 'Fair and Balanced' tag line and begin only showing stories from one viewpoint - saaaaay the Republican side?

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Tearful NASA salutes space shuttle Discovery

Mike Richards

When I was young

We could fly to the Moon, design a reusable space ship and fly to New York before lunch.

The Shuttle turned out to be a horribly flawed design, but my god the ambition it represented. If you ever get a chance go and take a look at a Space Shuttle main engine - it is a work of genius and an absolute triumph of engineering. It has to survive the temperature of liquid hydrogen without shattering like glass or developing leaks; the heat of an oxy-hydrogen flame without turning into a puddle, it has to pump biblical amounts of liquid without bubbling or variation. And then it has to get through the incredible vibration of takeoff and acceleration, moving and throttling throughout, return to Earth - and then do it again and again.

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Mike Richards

Apollo deaths weren't caused by Saturn

Saturn V was blameless in the Apollo 1 fire. That was a flaw in the Apollo Command Module from North American Rockwell.

Oh and there were only 10 manned flights of Saturn V (Apollos 8 - 17).

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Discovery glides into history

Mike Richards

Getting down

There are two more Shuttle launches, after that everyone will be going up and back down again on Soyuz modules.

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Anti-religious campaigners smack down census Jedis

Mike Richards

Another census thing

I'm very impressed by the range of languages on offer.

One that caught my eye was 'Swedish' - partly because I wasn't aware of large Swedish ghettos in the UK, but also because is there any Swede who doesn't speak better English than the average Briton?

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Mike Richards

You might be on to a winner

If you fill out all the forms with the same religion you - YES YOU - might be the lucky winner of a brand new faith school.

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Mike Richards

Erm - oh no it doesn't

''Thought shall not kill' is religious law which under pins our Society. Our sense of what is right and wrong can be directly traced back religious teachings.'

'Thou shalt not kill' is a nice soundbite, but it is quite surprising how much of the books of Exodus, Deuteronomy and Leviticus are given over to finding exceptions to what appears to be a fairly simple rule.

Working on the Sabbath - death. Planting two crops in the same field - that'd be a killing. Weaving two threads in the same garment - stone him! Then of course it is perfectly acceptable to kill people who live in the place your imaginary sky fairy tells you actually belongs to you, or those who worship a different imaginary friend, worship the same imaginary friend in a different way, or just don't look enthusiastic enough. The whole set of rules you think are a great way to live are full of viciousness and thuggery; they demean classes of people, demote the role of women to little more than that of property, encourage slavery, crush individualism and encourage fanaticism. They belong back in the bronze age along with the illiterate goat herders who dreamt them up.

Our sense of right and wrong have nothing to do with religion, they have developed independently because we are social animals. Just because some societies have formalised them along with bells and smells, doesn't give religion the right to claim that it is the only way to live life as a good person.

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Croatian brainboxes deploy calculus-based CAPTCHA

Mike Richards

I hope this catches on

Physicists putting up X-ray diffraction challenges, biologists making you work out the species from a DNA sequence (all of it) and the geologists just threatening to take a hammer to your tender bits.

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BBC to take cautious approach to 3D 'hype'

Mike Richards

Killer app

I think you might have stumbled upon the thing that will sell 3D like the proverbial hot cakes.

3D Womens' Beach Volleyball.

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How languages can live together without killing each other

Mike Richards

Wow!

I salute you for knowing something quite so spectacularly obscure.

Meanwhile I wonder if there is anyone capable of directly translating Basque to Icelandic, a language so unfathomably strange that it's just as well they're all stuck on an island halfway across the Atlantic.

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New 'supercritical' generators to boost nuclear output by 50%

Mike Richards

Good for geothermal

This could make many more geothermal reserves viable for energy production where it is hard to get either steam or very high temperature water out of the wells (I'm thinking Cornwall here), but it might also boost the efficiency of the high temperature fields in places like Iceland and the Philippines by allowing them to extract more energy.

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Mike Richards

It's not just 'suspected'

Pumping water into the ground does cause tremors, a deep disposal well in the Rockies (it was dumping nerve gas effluent, nothing to worry about) could turn earthquakes on and off depending on how much crap it was pushing down the pipe.

They're also reasonably common in Iceland around the sites of their geothermal plants where cool water is being returned to the ground after it has given up its heat.

Actually hot basalt plus CO2 is one of the possible ways of getting rid of greenhouse gases. At suitably high temperatures the two react together to form a mineral called palagonite which is perfectly stable.

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Xbox 360, PS3 prices to fall this summer

Mike Richards

'But surely if that's the case, won't Sony be the one to lower prices first?'

I don't think they can afford a price cut. Sony are further behind Microsoft in cost-reducing their console and paying off its development costs. At the moment, Xbox is setting the pace for the industry and Sony are playing catch up.

The really significant move will be which company is going to be first to announce the next generation console? This generation has been around for a comparatively long time now, but as yet, there's nothing solid about replacements.

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Sinclair ZX81: 30 years old

Mike Richards

You're right

Though you can still get kids into programming if you show them Scratch (scratch.mit.edu) which is a drag and drop programming language which lets you do graphics, animations and sound very easily and teaches you the fundamentals of program design. Say it quietly and you can even use it to do message passing and parallel processing (of a kind).

Sooner or later they'll hit the limits of Scratch, but by then they might be hooked enough to go on to a more powerful language like Alice.

And kids today have LEGO Mindstorms which really is far too good for them.

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Samsung UE55D8000 55in net-connected LED TV

Mike Richards

Ouch, but look on the bright side

You could have bought a Sony. It's a little known feature that all Sony products are automatically discontinued the first time someone actually buys one.

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Second US 'secret space warplane' now in orbit

Mike Richards

Military Shuttles.

'Like the shuttle it has delta-shaped wings which would seem to offer the same "cross-range" capability that the US military insisted upon for the bigger spaceplane: a capability intended for top-secret intelligence missions which would be extremely difficult for other nations to monitor – though in the event the Shuttle never actually flew such missions.'

The Soviet Union, which would have been the target of such missions, would have had no trouble monitoring polar launches of the Shuttle. They had tracking stations across the globe and even on ships designed for nothing else.

The military launches of the Shuttle were killed by the Shuttle's continued failure to achieve the number of launches that had been expected, its unreliability in meeting launch windows and finally by the explosion of Challenger caused by SRBs which were considerably stronger than those needed to launch out of Vandenberg.

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Mike Richards

Not really

This mission will have cost an order of magnitude more than NASA's climate probes. But we'll never know exactly how much. The public DoD space budget is around $20 billion p.a. (bigger than NASA's), on top of which there is an unknown amount of secret sauce.

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Captain Kirk hails space shuttle Discovery

Mike Richards

Enterprise

Was to have been upgraded to spaceworthiness but she differed in construction from the first true orbiter Columbia. It was uneconomic to bring her up to specification, so instead the second testbed, Challenger, which was comparable to Columbia was brought to full specification after she had finished stress tests.

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Mike Richards

Wow! Just wow!

That would be a wake up call like no other.

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BAE Systems faces 'debarment' from exporting US war-tech

Mike Richards

Lewis' dream

Might become a terrifying reality when the UK starts buying American kit - designed and built by BAe.

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NASA's Glory climate-data sat crashes into Pacific on launch

Mike Richards

Quite right

It's not like this sort of thing is rocket sci-oh hold on.

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Eurofighter Typhoon: It's EVEN WORSE than we thought

Mike Richards

Nothing to do with the EU

Eurofighter might be a European project but it has never had anything to do with the EU. It exists purely because Britain comprehensively trashed its aerospace industry in the 1960s and doesn't have the capacity or expertise to build planes independently any more.

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Mike Richards

Couldn't we have just bought Gripens?

The Swedes are looking for export markets for their latest Saab fighter. It's hellishly less expensive than either the Typhoon or the F35 and available right now. BAe is even one of the subcontractors.

Meanwhile, is anyone going to place any bets on which MoD project is going to go massively tits up next? I'm plumping on the aircraft carriers on the grounds that BAe has never put anything into the water on schedule or on budget.

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Samsung admits iPad 2 will be tough to beat

Mike Richards

Higher pricing

Will be very hard.

Neither Samsung or Motorola are especially highly-valued brand names. In Samsung's case this is a little unfair as they've been knocking out top-notch stuff for some time now. But trying to sell a product more expensive than Apple without the brand cachet is going to be a tricky job even if it is a more powerful tablet. The best way they could achieve it, is to do a Lexus and come up with an entirely new brand which espouses luxury and an unrivalled experience. It'd be a Samsung or Motorola underneath, but those names wouldn't appear anywhere on it.

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Commission clears Hollywood studios after U-turn

Mike Richards

Damn!

And I was hoping the EU was investigating Hollywood studios for their crapulent movies.

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Cobalt-barrel machine guns could fire full auto Hollywood style

Mike Richards

The hardest substance in the known universe

Namely the stuff that gets baked into the corner of a rice pudding dish.

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Welsh battle killer shrimp invasion

Mike Richards

I'm glad to see someone else is thinking along the same lines as me

I saw the photo and immediately thought tempura the buggers and serve them with a wedge of lime.

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