* Posts by Mike Richards

3605 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

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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British Airways IT worker found guilty of plotting terror attack

Mike Richards

Probably

It was only cracked when they read the PostIt note stuck on the corner of his monitor.

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Apple to Microsoft: 'App Store name is not generic'

Mike Richards

'genericness' - horrible word

It should of course be genericosity.

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Ex-PM blocked Steve Jobs knighthood

Mike Richards

Trying to work out who it is

The nomination was so fawning I assumed it was Tom Watson, surely the greasiest of the greasers; but that's not possible as he's still an MP (there is no justice in the world).

So I assume it can only be Jacqui Smith. Think about it - an ex Home Secretary in love with all sorts of expensive high tech oppressive micromanagement of peoples' lives. She was hoping His Steveness would tell her how to have people queuing round the block for identity cards. Perhaps by calling them iD cards?

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Portsmouth redefines the Olympic-sized swimming pool

Mike Richards

Conversions

Yes, but what's that in brontosauri*? (the standard unit of comparison for small boys)

* yes, yes, I know it's an apatosaurus.

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Mike Richards

Standards

The problem with getting the Olympic Swimming Pool recognised as an official unit is that you still don't have a reference pool cast from platinum alloy. As soon as you can get yourself one of those everyone will be able to bring their pools to the Register and have them measured properly.

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iPhone 'Death Grip' effect is real, plastic cases don't help

Mike Richards

Wrong place

I think you'll find the Daily Telegraph's comment boards are the next one over.

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Traffic-light plague sweeps UK: Safety culture strangles Blighty

Mike Richards

Kind of worrying

That all these proposals for flashing lights, drivers proceeding on their own judgement or allowing turning on red don't do anything for pedestrian safety.

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GM declares Ampera e-car 'production ready'

Mike Richards

Whoah!

That car has been comprehensively spanked with the ugly stick. The front 'face' looks like it was inspired by KISS make-up.

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MobileMe packages disappear from Apple's shelves

Mike Richards

iDisk

I wish iDisk played nice with our corporate firewall. For reasons that no one is entirely sure of, sometimes iDisk just doesn't work.

But Dropbox does. And it's faster.

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Mike Richards

They've been good in the past

I've had the occasional freebie or webstore credit from Apple for when things have either been made free or there's been a price drop. My subscription only just renewed so I will be a bit irked if they don't either give me something over the free version or some money back.

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Dell Venue Pro WinPho 7 smartphone

Mike Richards

What's the smiley button for?

Please don't say there is a button for emoticons.

I'd rather have an @ button that doesn't require a shift (and RIM if you're reading, not having a dedicated @ on the Blackberry sucks too)

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Customs officers get X-ray machines for down under searches

Mike Richards

Excuse me for asking...

...but don't you have to be a trained radiographer to deliver doses of X-rays?

It's been a long time since just anyone was allowed to zap people with radiation - pretty much since they stopped X-raying peoples' feet for correct shoe sizes.

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London Stock Exchange floored, again

Mike Richards

It's fine, it's fine

Just turn it off and on again.

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Voyeurs invited to watch space truck dock

Mike Richards

Commentary

I hope David Attenborough is on stand-by

'Now, the space station raises its docking aperture signifying that it is receptive to Kepler's advances...'

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Discovery poised for final mission

Mike Richards

Two more after this

Currently scheduled as:

April 19th STS-134 with Endeavour

June 28th STS-135 with Atlantis

and then it's all over.

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Russia blames Google for Egyptian revolt

Mike Richards

Russia has 'one of the world's most stable political systems'

In the sense that Vladimir Putin always seems to be in charge, I guess that's true.

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Cornish pasties awarded protected status

Mike Richards

Oh well done...

...you managed to cram an IT angle into the story.

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Mike Richards

British food is better

You can't beat someone to death with antipasto - a pasty on the other hand, wielded correctly is a lethal weapon.

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Scientists tremble before 'thunder-thighs' sauropod

Mike Richards

Coming next week in the Daily Mail

Does Brontomerus have cellulite?

As for the fossil hunters who smash up these sites - may I suggest a hammer to the testicles?

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Eight years for ID fraudster

Mike Richards

Damn!

I read that hoping Blunkett had finally been put away.

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Apple 'greed' tax spreads beyond music, movies, magazines

Mike Richards

I don't think so

'You also cannot undercut the App Store pricing on your own site. Which makes sense given that Apple are taking care of the bandwidth and hosting issues for you with the App Store itself.'

Actually after the initial purchase there is absolutely no need for you to touch Apple's servers when downloading other content. The hosting cost of the app should have been absorbed in the initial purchase cost.

Apple are making the likes of RyanAir and thetrainline.com with their 'booking charges' and 'credit card fees' look reasonable.

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UK inks space research deal with Russia

Mike Richards

'UK Russia Year of Space 2011'

You're right, that sucks.

Why not Spacesmash or Stargasm?

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Westboro Baptist Church taunts Anonymous over supposed attack plan

Mike Richards

WBC: '3rd party penetration testing'

[childish snigger]

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Huawei to gift underground coverage to London

Mike Richards

China

Helping develop the economy of yet another backward nation I see.

Anyone prepared to bet on the length of time (to the nearest minute) between the service being turned on and an iPhone being shoved down its user's throat?

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