* Posts by Mike Richards

3587 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Mysterious crypto-book dated to 15th century

Mike Richards

Entropy

That's a good question made more complex by the problem that no one can agree on the number of characters in the Voynich alphabet, whether some are distinct characters, whether they are accented or ligands. Using the most commonly agreed number of characters, then the entropy comes in lower than most languages and certainly lower than any European languages. The text is very repetitive. If it is plaintext of prose then the only known language that comes close is Polynesian.

So those naked women gambolling across the vellum might just be beautiful sun-kissed, long-limbed, raven-haired, bronzed...[going for a lie down now]

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Rare metals found in Cornish tin mine

Mike Richards

Wouldn't be the first time they went back to the tips

During the late part of World War I many Cornish tips were mined for wolframite as Allied gunmakers tried to compete with the super-hard tungsten alloys being used in German guns. Cornish miners had known about wolframite for decades and loathed the stuff because it was hard to separate from cassiterite (tin oxide) and was impossible to smelt. So when they found it, they dumped it.

But some of this is hardly news, silver and gold were regularly recovered from Cornish mines. Indium is news (if only because industrial uses only came along after the heyday of the mines) - but in retrospect not that surprising, it's much quicker to list the elements that can't be found in Cornish ores, AFAIK it is still the most mineralogically diverse region in the World.

[Sighs fondly thinking of all those hazy summer days spent looking for uranium minerals]

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Mike Richards

It's a byproduct

The indium will be a byproduct of cassiterite mining. Tin will make or break the mine, and prices for that have rocketed of late, so the indium is very much the icing on the cake. It's a long time since I did the geology of South Crofty but they may also extract small amounts of copper, silver and tungsten alongside tin.

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UK.gov shreds last ID scheme hard drives

Mike Richards

Missed opportunity

I would have invited David Blunkett, Charles Clarke, Jacqui Smith and Meg Hillier along to help me feed disks into the crusher, and enjoy their tears.

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No 'tipping point' for Arctic sea ice - latest science

Mike Richards

Growth in Antarctic sea ice

Now, now Lewis, you know that's a red herring.

Left as it is in your article a casual reader might think the growth in seasonal sea ice around Antarctica is due to a cooling ocean. In fact, it's quite the opposite; the ocean around Antarctica has warmed by about 0.5C in the last thirty years.

Warmer water evaporates more and produces more precipitation around the margins of the continent which dilutes the cool surface water and produces a highly stratified ocean. Heat can't circulate up from deeper, warmer, more saline water, encouraging the growth of a thin layer of ice. Antarctic sea ice is also much less important to the Earth's energy balance than that in the Arctic. Since we have been exploring the region around Antarctica, there have been almost no years where sea ice has not melted in early summer allowing the Sun to warm the surface of the ocean.

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TERRORISTS IN SUBMARINES menace the Free World!

Mike Richards

Why would terrorists want to blow up an oil rig?

When BP and Halliburton are quite capable of doing it for themselves.

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Apple under threat from ... Windows tablets

Mike Richards

Microsoft have to be brutal to survive

They'll have to make a highly restrictive specification for these tablets and make vendors stick to them. How many buttons, where they go, what sort of things are allowed and what aren't. Otherwise they'll end up with hundreds of wildly differing devices offerings different experiences for users. All these devices will have to behave in exactly the same way or customers will get scared away. They've done something similar for Windows Mobile 7 and the handsets and the software are excellent.

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Labour forum leaks email addresses

Mike Richards

On the upside

Labour's security flaws have moved on somewhat from the time when they invited you to email them your credit card number.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/04/18/labour_party_in_web_security/

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Council dives into crematorium-heated pool

Mike Richards

Congratulations to Unison

For managing to crowbar a political point into any discussion.

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Six... budget Blu-ray Disc players

Mike Richards

Thanks

I'll start saving.

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Mike Richards

Region free BD?

Has anyone seen a region free player for Blu-Ray disks or know which ones can be easily de-regioned?

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Super-thin materials could POWER our WORLD

Mike Richards

Blame the chemists

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry standardised the spelling as sulfur in 1990; the Royal Society and the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority followed suit in the UK in 1992 and 2000 respectively.

But in case you're feeling bad, it's a draw; element 13 is officially aluminium; despite what the left bankers say.

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Ofcom okays Derren Brown psychic-baiting

Mike Richards

One question remains

Didn't Mr. Power's spirit guide tell him what Ofcom was going to say?

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Sir Elton outs iPad 2 release date

Mike Richards

Reg might read el Reg

He might just have seen speculation about fondleslab 2.0 on this esteemed organ.

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Stroppy Belgian students in Ryanair mutiny

Mike Richards

If RyanAir want to get their own back

They could always divert the flight to a tiny, ill-equipped airport in the middle of nowhere, hundreds of miles from the intended destination - oh hold on.

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Bold as brass metal thieves disrupt rail, comms, electric

Mike Richards
Happy

It must have been shocking.

Nearly as shocking as your use of the apostrophe.

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NASA snaps Sun in super STEREO

Mike Richards

Coming soon to Sky 3D

The Sun.

(it's an extra fiver a month to get it in HD)

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Motorola Super Bowl ad rips Apple drones

Mike Richards

Second ad

Had they ended it when they reached 'it's time for more choices' they'd have a fantastic teaser that would have got people talking.

As soon as they follow up with 'dual core' and '1080p' they've lost most of the market.

Which is why Apple ads are so effective, there's almost no discussion of the technology, it's all about the experience and emotion of using the product. That makes a connection with the customer. And that's why iPhones and iPads are so successful.

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Russia has 'secret space warplane' to match US X-37B

Mike Richards

Polar orbit Shuttles and Soviet space planes

Were canned for several reasons, none to do with payload. The delays associated with Shuttle launches were unacceptable to the military who wanted a more reliable launcher, so lobbied for, and got, additional Titan IVs. What finally killed the project was Challenger; the Vandenburg launches would have used an even lighter SRB design which would have been even more prone to leakage and disaster. NASA canned the development of the booster.

Whether or not Uragan ever existed (there is plenty of evidence it was no more than a disinformation programme), the Soviet Union certainly flew and recovered a scale-model spaceplane called BOR-4 four times in the 1980s. The BOR project had originally been part of their Spiral spaceplane, when that was cancelled, the half-scale model was used to test materials and re-entry profiles for Buran. So it's nice to see the Americans playing catch-up ;)

http://www.buran-energia.com/bor/bor-desc.php

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NASA hails 'amazing' exoplanetary system

Mike Richards

Well...

...I didn't want to boast.

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Mike Richards

'Jack Lissauer, planetary scientist and a Kepler science team member'

Whoa there!

Following the Neal's ('we're not charlatans, honest') Yard ruling from the ASA, 'scientist' might mean he's got an advanced degree in theoretical yogurt weaving from the University of Creditcard sur Internet.

I'm hoping that Lissauer being described as a 'planetary scientist' means he's sort of a geologist. Geologist may not often need to resort to solving problems with calculus (most geological problems are soluble with a hammer), but must be considered boffins because they're responsible for dinosaurs and volcanoes.

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Twenty-tonne space truck poised for ISS trip

Mike Richards

Surely someone from ESA reads this site

Is there no room in that 7 tonne payload for a Playmobilnaut?

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Sky loses pub footy case

Mike Richards

Waiting for the News International response

Even now the finest minds of the Murdoch press will be trying to retain Sky viewers with a hearts and minds campaign based around a high-minded concept such as 'foreign telly gives you AIDS'.

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Photo loss blogger to Flickr: You're f*cking kidding

Mike Richards

Trashcan

It does seem odd that suspended accounts aren't moved to a trashcan pending deletion. Flickr could send the registered user a notification that there is something suspicious about the account. if they don't respond within (chooses random number) seven days then the account is deleted permanently. If they reply, an arbitration process begins.

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Official: PhD in 'Essential Oils' or 'Natural Toiletries' = 'a Scientist'

Mike Richards

True boffins

I'm also certain that a real boffin has a pipe and performs jaw-dropping breakthroughs in a shed. (This of course rules out Americans from true boffinry)

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Mike Richards

Neal's Yard - charlatans

These are the people who were perfectly happy to sell homeopathic 'remedies' for malaria - a product that offers absolutely no defence against what can be a crippling, or even fatal, condition. Later, they were invited to discuss their products and ethics with possibly the least hostile audience imaginable - Guardian readers - and it all went horribly pear shaped:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/ethicallivingblog/2009/may/26/you-ask-neals-yard-remedies?INTCMP=SRCH

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Murdoch, The Daily, and life without the web

Mike Richards

Not just you

If you listen to Murdoch v.2 you quickly realise he didn't get his position by being best at his job. That's the weakness of NI, too few people being brought in from outside to come up with new ideas. They're wedded to pay-TV and paywalls and really don't have a plan B.

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Apple tosses Sony iBooks rival from iTunes

Mike Richards

Sony eBooks

The idea of an eBook app is nice, but Sony don't have the infrastructure to deliver the same experience as buying through Kindle. With Kindle, if you buy the book on iOS it is also immediately available on your PC, Mac and your Kindle when you get it.

The Sony readers in the UK don't have WiFi and Sony don't even deliver their own content in Britain. So if you bought an eBook on your iPhone, you probably could get it on to your reader when you buy one of their very nice piece of hardware.

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Ten... wireless keyboards

Mike Richards

Mattias Tactile Pro

A fabulous Mac keyboard with microswitches under the keys. I've never been able to type as fast as with this beast, but had to retire it when we moved to an open plan office as the clickity-clackety sound could be heard on the other side of the building.

It's USB with two USB unpowered sockets and weighs a ton. A really nice touch is that all the alternate symbols are also marked on the keyboard, so it's easy to find all those weird accents less fortunate languages insist on using.

You have to hunt them down in the UK, but if you're a Mac user who likes a proper keyboard they're hard to beat.

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MSI Windows webpad goes on sale

Mike Richards

WindPad?

Sounds like a cushion filled with activated-charcoal.

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Sci/tech doctorate protects you from unemployment – in the US

Mike Richards

Another difference between the US and the UK

They still have thriving engineering and science sectors in their economy, we have openings for mortgage brokers, pizza delivery boys and the insanely large number of people required to sell Sky TV packages in shopping centres.

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Gatwick Airport security swoops on 3-inch rifle

Mike Richards

" There are lots of reasons an item could be prevented from going through security."

I dare you to give one that won't reduce me to tears of laughter in this context.

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Your call is not important to us

Mike Richards

Amazon

Their 'call me back' facility on the customer service pages is quite simply brilliant. I've never waited more than 30 seconds for the call back and then no more than a few more moments until I'm speaking to someone who can fix the problem.

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Antique Nimrod subhunters scrapped – THANK GOODNESS!

Mike Richards

Crap plane - but...

Comparing the price of the development of the Nimrod to the price of a new Orbiter is misleading as it ignores the huge amounts of money NASA sunk into designing the Shuttle in the first place.

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UK tech retailers are rubbish

Mike Richards

Not just Richer Sounds

Comet are especially evil in this regard. They carry Monster cables - and we all know what good value for money they aren't - and bully customers into buying them with a TV. My parents got scammed for £60 for component cables (and were told this was a special offer because they were buying a table) - when both their DVD player and TV had HDMI.

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Mike Richards

If you really need a SCART cable

Drop round my place and I can give you a dustbin bag full of them.

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Videogame TRAINS TERRORISTS, yells pundit

Mike Richards

Well I don't need any more evidence than that

It's quite clear that MW2 also inspired time-travelling terrorists to attack Vienna and Rome airports in 1985:

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

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Bookeen CyBook Orizon

Mike Richards

PRS-650

Any chance of a comparison with Sony's top-end eBook reader which has the same screen? From the photos the Sony is better looking, but it'd be nice to know about the usability.

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China plans city 'twice the size of Wales'

Mike Richards

Size of Wales

Is a bit arbitrary really. Do you mean the size of Wales as seen from above, or the size of Wales if you ironed it properly (in which case it is considerably larger than Greenland*)

* which isn't as large as you think it is.

I'm really not helping am I?

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The Last Airbender up for nine Razzies

Mike Richards

You're forgetting the Expendables

Easily the worst movie of last year.

It's like someone had 1980s action movies explained to them through interpretive dance, then commissioned a script from a slumming chimp, got it directed by someone who might have trouble using a flip, lit by a blind man and the sound recorded through treacle.

Never have so many steroids been shot to so little effect.

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Gates, Woz, and the last 2,000 years of computing

Mike Richards

ENIAC first????

Hasn't it been agreed by everyone outside the US that ENIAC was preceded by the all-electronic Colossus (which was also binary - something ENIAC wasn't)? The Zuse machines and the ABC preceded both, but contained mechanical components.

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Massive US rocket sends top-secret cargo into space

Mike Richards

'yesterday's delivery is likely to have gone into a high-angle polar track'

DID go into a high-angle polar track. If it had been in any other inclination it would have dumped boosters and spent stages on the US.

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Duke Nukem Forever release date revealed

Mike Richards

[GRIN]

They're aiming for Fall 2007.

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End of the line for ID cards

Mike Richards

Somewhere...

ex Identity Card Minister Meg Hillier is crouched in her bunker, ID card in one hand, pearl-handled revolver in the other 'They'll never take my card. Never I tell you!'

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Lush website hack 'exposes credit card details'

Mike Richards

Unencrypted car details?

I hope someone is recreationally fired for that mistake.

I *think* if the card issuers find the data has not been held securely they can not only force Lush to cover the losses, but they can refuse to offer card services to the company.

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Boffins sex pterodactyls at last

Mike Richards

Pterodactyl???? Never trust spokespeople, they know not what they write

Darwinopterus is a genus in the pterosaur order. Pterodactyls are another genus in the same order but belong to a completely different family.

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FAA to pilots: Expect 'unreliable or unavailable' GPS signals

Mike Richards

Can't wait for the headlines

Bearing in mind both disruptions are in areas famed for their wackos we should expect some hilarious news stories.

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NASA nano-satellite belatedly ejects from orbiting mothership

Mike Richards

If only...

...they'd had the foresight to put a little Playmobilnaut aboard.

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Gov will spend £400k to destroy ID card data

Mike Richards

Should have crowdsourced it

I'm sure a whole lot of people here would have brought their own sledgehammers and done it for free just for the reward of making David Blunkett cry.

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Brazilian cult condemns USB

Mike Richards

'because blue is the colour of Jesus' eyes'

Really, are there a lot of good Jewish boys from Nazareth with blue eyes?

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