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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Obama consults Steve Jobs on making America great again

Mike Richards
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You know - it might be a good idea

For politicians to consult successful businessmen. To find out exactly how Apple came back from the dead to become one of the biggest companies on the NYSE. Steve Jobs might have the vision but he relies on a lot of highly educated people to make it happen. More of that sort of working would give American industry a real boost.

And by comparison, when the last government wanted industrial experience to form policy who did they get? Alan bloody Sugar.

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Dell takes aim at Apple with upmarket pledge

Mike Richards
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It's the brand that matters

Dell means one thing to most people - cheap. Trying to take the brand upmarket is a real challenge because it means competing against companies like Apple and Sony that are already pretty damned good at persuading people their goods are worth the money (even if they're patently junk).

If Dell chooses to go upmarket and quit grubbing around in the bargain basement it leaves room for some new companies to come in below them. Dell could find itself in the middle ground of the market where no one really wants to be - not cheap enough to sell in huge quantities, not valued enough to command a premium.

Ditching the name 'Dell' might be a good way forward - or at least spinning off a new brand entirely to cater for people who have money.

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Cameron cocks up UK's defences - and betrays Afghan troops

Mike Richards
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Sitting here in Reykjavik...

...I think it's time Britain followed the example of a fellow bankrupt country and put out a contract for its defence. The Icelanders rely on fellow NATO countries for air defence so not only do they not have to worry about lining BAE's profits, their defenders usually only bring the working kit as they don't want to look bad.

Iceland has four small coastguard vessels of its own, and I suspect on past form they're more than a match for Royal Navy frigates.

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Local Spanish press embrace PARIS

Mike Richards
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Good point

Rui's slinky little number would have added a certain classiness to the story don't you think? Public relations are everything Lester.

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Mike Richards
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'improbable amounts of epoxy and beer'

With the glue as a chaser?

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Dixons risks future of humanity with Star Wars-themed ads

Mike Richards
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Tagline

If you want to see stuff from 'A long time ago' and interact with the dead - visit Dixons.

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Cameron: Carriers tomorrow, bombers today

Mike Richards
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One carrier or two?

My reading of Cameron's speech was that Carrier One would go into service for three years or so and then either be mothballed or sold abroad (presumably at a massive discount because the purchaser will know we want to be rid of the thing since we can't afford it), so we'd only really ever have one carrier.

It'd be quicker, cheaper and make about as much military sense to paint the Calais car ferry grey and call it a carrier. The Navy could then help fund its own operating costs by running booze cruises.

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Apple squashes unauthorized MacBook battery maker

Mike Richards
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Licensing

By the sounds of it, HyperMac hadn't bothered to license the MagSafe design from Apple and that's a clear breach of IP law. Apple are just doing what all companies would do and forcing them to remove the goods from sale.

If HyperMac want to sell MagSafe-compatible devices then they need to get their people to talk to Apple's people and see if the Big Fruit wants to play ball and how much the ball will cost.

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Rooney exits Man U with a few choice words

Mike Richards
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I can't be bothered to click

But Fox would have their work cut out to explain Wayne Rooney, Alex Ferguson, Manchester United, wankers, and indeed football, using short words that won't upset their god-fearing, trailer-park friendly audience.

For one of those, the explanation is that wankers and Fox are pretty much synonymous.

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Jobs savages 7-inch tablet competition

Mike Richards
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Important word there 'current'

Apple doesn't *currently* have a 7" iPad but its rivals do. So obviously Apple is going to say that the competition sucks.

Apple will keep saying the same right up until the point they're ready to release a 7" tablet of their own.

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Gov axes £35bn Severn Barrage tide-energy scheme

Mike Richards
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Nuclear

While it's good to see this White elephant being buried, does anyone seriously believe the figures of the cost of new nuclear being promoted by the reactor vendors? The French books are opaque beyond description so no one really knows what their plants cost. The best comparison is in Finland where their new PWR is both late and way over budget. I'll be astonished if the British government doesn't kick in taxpayer-funded loan guarantees and agree to cover the decommissioning costs. If we're really lucky it'll not be •quite• as bad as Dungeness B.

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MoD braced for painful weight-loss surgery next week

Mike Richards
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You're going to need to explain that one

'if you call the US war of independence a draw'

Britain lost its richest North American colonies, lost most of the battles and handed France a new ally - how on earth does that come out as a draw?

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Mike Richards
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Meanwhile over at the Gruniad

Their leak has it that the Harrier force is going to be scrapped to save the Tornado, which would leave the new (mostly pointless) carriers even less useful than planned and save much less money.

Well done Biggles.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/oct/15/raf-fight-save-tornado-bombers

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'Squeeze green oil from North Sea by squirting CO2 in' - prof

Mike Richards
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Sea water injection

Already done. It's bloody expensive because water is so heavy and because the water has to be purified before injection so it doesn't clog up the reservoir with small particles of grit and microscopic beasties.

CO2 is used because its easier to handle and in the case of most oils, actually makes them less viscous and easier to recover.

What the article doesn't mention is that the Texan CO2 is coming from natural gas wells. Gas companies remove the CO2 before putting it into the pipelines because it dilutes the useful product. It's easy to recover and transport. Capturing it from combustion is a much harder task.

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Margaret Thatcher celebrates 85 years

Mike Richards
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There is only one star big enough for this role

Paris - she'll bring the necessary sleb razzamatazz to the story of young Hilda and her life in glamorous interwar Grantham.

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Sony Reader PRS-350 Pocket Edition

Mike Richards
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PRS 950

In the US they have the 6" PRS 950 which comes with a WiFi link to the Sony eBook store. It's a really nice piece of kit, but useless over here as it only goes to the US store (which needs a US credit card billing address). Sadly as long as Sony have their link to the Waterstone's store I don't think we'll see the 950.

The PRS 650 big brother to the 350 is a fine reader. In black it makes the screen look even more contrasty.

But yes, unless Sony can make their readers immediately more compelling to newcomers, Amazon will end up owning the market. Call me radical, but it'd help if Sony tried advertising the bloody things. I've lost count how many people have come over and said 'what's that?' and then 'I didn't know these things existed' followed by 'where can I get one?' when I've been out and about with my Reader.

BTW. Thanks for the reminder, I have to charge mine before my day trip to the security checks at Heathrow.

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Apple trade marks 'There's an app for that'

Mike Richards
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Erm....

Marketing slogans have been trademarkable for decades. Check out McDonald's for trademarks:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_McDonald's_trademarks

Surprisingly 'Do you want fries with that?' isn't in the list.

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Bruce Willis relaxes as asteroid skims Singapore

Mike Richards
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*this* close to geostationary

And it didn't even have the decency to take out a Murdochsat.

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Mike Richards
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Not often

The ones that are this size when they landed on Earth started off a lot bigger before they hit the atmosphere. This is just the right size to be smashed to pieces by aerodynamics. That's not to say NONE of it would have impacted, just nothing big enough to take out a city.

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CEOP chief accuses UK.gov of putting kids at risk

Mike Richards
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'I have no vested self interest'

and then uses the word 'us' about CEOP throughout his 'please, please let me keep my tabloid friendly job' multimedia appearance. It's a strange way of resigning.

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Branson 'spaceship' successfully falls off mothership

Mike Richards
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@ andy gibson

'Actually, with a name like "Buzz" you're fairly likely to remember the second man. Now the name of the third......'

Pete Conrad - do I win a prize?

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Inside Windows Phone 7: ghost of Zune

Mike Richards
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Let's give Microsoft a little bit of credit

They've not done what pretty much every other phone manufacturer has done and simply copied the iPhone interface with its layout of icons and favourite applications.

As for mandating things - yes it can be restrictive, but look at the current mishmash of interfaces on S60, Windows Mobile and worst of all - Android. Get a new phone and you wonder where everything has gone.

I don't know why, but I really can't wait to play with the Metro interface - it looks - fun. If you've ever played with a Zune - guess I'm talking to myself here - the interface is fabulous - much, much better than that on the iPod.

There's a chance Microsoft have actually cracked it this time.

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'We Want Two' Navy carrier plan pondered by Cabinet

Mike Richards
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Hate to say it

But 'we want eight and we won't wait' was a better slogan.

Those white elephants nearly bankrupted the country as well and proved entirely useless in warfare.

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PARIS furnished with engorgement

Mike Richards
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Lacking accessories

A chihuahua for one.

Hold on - have I just stumbled on the identity of PARIS's mysterious pilot? Could it be Tinkerbell? If anyone spots Lester boarding a plane with a bag of doggie chocolates and a small bottle of chloroform I think we'll know why.

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Kindle users get Zorked out

Mike Richards
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Coat

Zork != Infocom

Zork came from MIT, Infocom adapted it to home computers.

AFAIK the rights to Infocom's own products (including the sequels to Zork) still lie with Activision. HHGTTG was a bitch of a game, I was always into the Leather Goddesses of Phobos myself.

Mine will be the one with the scratch-and-sniff feelies.

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Amazon Kindle 3 e-book reader

Mike Richards
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Don't notice it any more

I've had a Sony Reader for the last couple of years and yes the flash is initially distracting, but I can honestly say I stopped noticing it after a while.

I've just bought a new Sony Reader 650 which uses the same screen as the current Kindle. The Sony feels more solid, is a bit more elegant and I prefer its interface; but the Kindle is streets ahead in getting content on to the machine. I'd have probably jumped ship if I hadn't already bought quite a lot of ePub and LRF books.

In contrast to Kindle, using the Waterstone's store and the Sony Library application is something like the fiddly process of getting content on to an MP3 player before Apple introduced the iPod - clunky.

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Navy Carriers: We want two or no votes for you, Tories

Mike Richards
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Marines

Isn't a real problem that we don't have enough forces to do anything far away from home? It's not much good having our carrier troll around the globe and sit there 'dominating' when we've got nothing to send ashore to do the actual fighting.

IIRC our amphibious landing ships are antiques and there's been discussion of cutting back on the Marines to pay for more high tech toys. Wouldn't a fleet of HMS Ocean-alikes be a better use of money and give us some real clout?

As for the shipyards, they're in their current mess because they're only kept alive by government contracts rather than competing in a genuine market. Our commercial shipbuilding industry has vanished because it was too short-sighted to see the market for bulk carriers, roll-on roll-off ferries and liners. The Finnish, Korean and Italian yards don't need constant propping up with government money, they produce a product customers actually want and their ships actually work. I don't see why the taxpayer should keep BAE slipways occupied any more than it should have kept Rover building crappy cars.

If we're happy to buy our telephone networks from the Chinese and our power plants from the French I don't see why we can't go shopping abroad for warships. Let other countries take the risk of developing new deathtech, we're no bloody good at it.

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PARIS unveils impressive box

Mike Richards
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In the manner of American Air Force bombers?

Will PARIS' elegant fuselage carry an equally elegant depiction of its namesake?

Are any Regitards willing (and indeed able) to design such a delightful bit of cheesecake?

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Mike Richards
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He's a regular tease that Lester

' with a view down to where our pilot will ride out the ascent:'

PILOT - there's going to be a pilot!

BTW. Is it just me who suddenly realised PARIS was a lot larger than she appeared sprawled out and dismembered in Lester's shed?

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Apple's iPad is the hotcake of the 21st century

Mike Richards
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Not a problem

Since the US has borrowed the money from the Chinese in the first place it's more a case of the money going home.

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Iran nuclear plant shutdown due to 'leak'

Mike Richards
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Actually

The UK would pick up the silver medal thanks to a splendid effort at turning the North of England into a glow-in-the-dark novelty with the 1957 Windscale fire.

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Mike Richards
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Not that late really

When you think of our very own Dungeness B. Ordered 1965 for delivery in 1970. Went critical in 1983 at 400% of the original price. Curiously neither EDS nor BAE were even involved.

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US navy to battle Iranian mini-ekranoplan swarms with rayguns

Mike Richards
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@Tom Welsh

'Erm, remind me what legitimate business US warships have in the Persian Gulf?'

Any business they choose - most of the Persian Gulf is international waters and anyone can sail their ships there.

Whether or not that is a wise idea is another question.

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UK head of online child protection resigns

Mike Richards
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And lo it has come to pass

'Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre row deepens

'Three more managers ready to quit after departure yesterday of chief executive Jim Gamble in merger protest'

http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2010/oct/05/ceop-row-deepens-more-resignations

The article goes on to say CEOP employes 120 people - how on earth did this body get so big and powerful without any legislative controls?

And yep the (very) ex-Home Secretary Alan Johnson has chipped in:

'The Home Office's lack of consultation has led to the resignation of Mr Gamble who is highly respected within and outside of the organisation he served so well'

Highly respected? I think not Alan.

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Mike Richards
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Oh no!

'I'm not going to be the centre of attention - well in that case I'm off!' Jim Gamble is now locked inside a giant wicker phallus outside of the Conservative Party conference and is threatening to set light to it unless his demands to be made grand commissar of the Internet are granted.

Good riddance to the tedious little media whore. Perhaps we can now have a sane discussion of child protection - I wonder if Chris Morris is available.

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£1bn+ Royal Navy destroyer finally fires 'disgraceful' weapon

Mike Richards
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Rusting's the least of its problems

The electrics won't work and the motor will be on strike most of the time.

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Mike Richards
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But...

...the jumbo toaster was at least NEW technology.

This is a copy of existing technology and seems to have come in with a price tag somewhere north of f-ing ridiculous made worse by - how shall we put it - 'not being good for anything'.

I'd like to think the Russian and Chinese defence industries were as hopeless as our own, but I suspect their charming attitude of shooting people for failure rather concentrates the minds of their weapons designers.

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Mike Richards
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Depressing isn't it?

We've bought a system where the most reliable component is *Windows*!

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iPhone app tagged as terror tool

Mike Richards
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High tech not really needed

I don't know if Patrick Mercer has noticed, but terrorists get lots of help from airlines already who have adopted the unfortunate habit painting the company name all over the sides of the aircraft - sometimes in quite bright colours.

If anyone wanted to take out a BA flight, they'd just have to ummmm - look up.

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Google open sources JPEG assassin

Mike Richards
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Not forgetting

It'll be Microsoft WebP (for Windows) format only.

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EU sues UK.gov over Phorm trials

Mike Richards
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*** Not at this address ****

The government should cross through the address on the envelope and have it forwarded on to Patsie Hewitt c/o BT and Jack Straw - just because.

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Samsung E60 e-book reader

Mike Richards
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Seriously overpriced

Even at £199 it's inferior to the latest Sony Reader 650 which has the usual elegant construction, a better eInk display, finger-friendly touchscreen and annotation support.

The only thing it has which the Sony could benefit from is WiFi - but since I've never felt the need to download a book NOW I'm not sure how much use it would get.

It's biggest selling point should be that you won't have to use the unfathomably terrible Waterstone's eBook store.

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Car wrecks rise after texting bans imposed

Mike Richards
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A horrible overreaction and infringing their human rights

A much more humane approach would be to simply chloroform children before setting off. If your local pharmacist can't help a bottle of vodka per child is extremely effective and has the additional benefit of introducing your kids to adult life in modern Britain.

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Las Vegas death ray roasts hotel guests

Mike Richards
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Also a problem with...

...the incredible Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. It's a Gehry building made up of waves and ripples finished in stainless steel. Most of the building was frosted, but some panels were left like mirrors and they were roasting the occupants of nearby buildings. The panels were later frosted to reduce the reflection.

It's not quite worth a trip to LA (frankly, little is); but if you're there, it's well worth a look.

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Nuclear merchant ships could open up Arctic routes for real

Mike Richards
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One small problem

With one exception, the countries with experience building large bulk carriers are those that have no experience with building power reactors. Even if these things were to become a reality the ships wouldn't be built in the UK or the US - if we were lucky the reactors might be.

The only major shipbuilder that has tried nuclear shipping was Japan whose Mutsu first sailed nearly 20 years after the keel was laid and which became infamous when a radiation leak was sealed with a mixture of boiled rice and old socks. She was scrapped in 1992 after running up bills of more than a billion dollars and having done no useful work. The Otto Hahn from Germany was eventually converted to diesel power as she was uneconomic on nuke juice and the very beautiful NSS Savannah was decommissioned because she couldn't make money.

It'll be a brave company that sinks money into the quagmire of marine nuclear, especially now when shipping rates are very low and when there is a glut of cheap ships waiting for work. The whole things smells more like a company desperate for new outlets for its technology rather than any particular demand from users.

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Google cools data center with bottom of Baltic Sea

Mike Richards
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They are

See my posting above.

The state-owned Landsvirkjun power company has made server farms their number one priority for future energy projects along with manufacturing solar silicon. The Icelanders have got fed up with the pollution from the smelters and that the plants energy consumption is subsidised to produce a product with a very volatile price.

http://www.landsvirkjun.com/about-us/news/nr/704

The Wellcome Foundation is going to be one of the big users of the first plant out at Keflavik.

Quick correction - electricity is actually the best way of smelting aluminium.

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Mike Richards
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It's doable

The Hellisheiði geothermal plant already pumps hot water to Reykjavik over a distance of more than 30km. They lose less than 2 Celsius en-route, so there's no reason this couldn't be done in Finland.

They get round the risk of failure by using more than one pipe taking a different path and having huge hot water storage tanks on the hills round the city.

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Mike Richards
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Not quite the Arctic

But there's a huge data centre being built on the decommissioned Keflavik US Air Force base South West of Reykjavik with more to follow. Not only does the - erm - brisk - Icelandic climate help keep the servers cool but they can be powered by geothermal and hydro power.

It's a damn sight more profitable for the Landsvirkjun power company than subsidising aluminium smelters and, because of Iceland's physical location - is great for balancing loads between the US and Europe. The locals like it because it means well-paid jobs and none of the pollution from the smelting process.

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Apple's 11.6in MacBook Air release imminent?

Mike Richards
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Now that would be tempting

The 12" Powerbook was a fantastic little machine - powerful in its day and yet entirely portable. They still get good money on eBay because they are the perfect machine for travelling when you don't need too much grunt.

It might be too much to hope Apple will bring the new machine in at a sane price though.

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Fraunhofer boffins develop 'Titanium foam' endoskeletal implants

Mike Richards
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Institut für Fertigungstechnik und Angewandte Materialforschung

Do German signwriters get paid by the metre?

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