* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

No one needs Blu-ray, says Microsoft exec

Mike Richards

Yep

Microsoft was part of the HD-DVD consortium and even released an add-on HD-DVD player for the 360

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Universities warn Willetts on science cuts

Mike Richards

Other way round

There's probably more range in US salaries than in the UK where there is a single national pay spine for academics; but American salaries are generally higher across the board. Second tier universities in California appoint academics at salaries equating to some £50k, the big boys will be much more generous.

At the top UK academic salaries become dizzying as the pay packets of the various VCs will demonstrate.

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Moses' parting of the Red Sea: New sim explains whole thing

Mike Richards

Class action

@ adnim

"And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen ..."

is incitement to mass murder. Can we start a class action?

Only in certain jurisdictions. Jehovah 1.0 (previously sold as YHWH widely marketed under the Old Testament brand) was replaced with the all-new God 2.0 after market research demonstrated reluctance to adhere to the 113 conditions of sale (afterwards known as the Commandments) of the original.

God 2.0 is available in most of Western Europe, Africa, South America and especially in the United States. Users of God 2.0 should pay particular attention to the New Covenant clause invalidating controversial user functionality (including 'smiting', 'plague' and 'brimstone) found in Jehovah 1.0. The books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy have been superseded by a simplified 'don't be a fuckwit' obligation and should be disposed of in an appropriate manner.

Small print.

Other deities may (or may not) exist. Your belief structure may be incompatible with the known structure of reality. Please do not attempt to install faith in small children. Your faith is a personal matter and should not be imposed on others. Belief in God 2.0 or any other competing product is not essential in order to be a decent human being.

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Mike Richards

Alternatively

By a liberal application of Occam's razor it could be explained by (no simulations required)...

...being a myth

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Crash grounds RAF Eurofighters - for Battle of Britain Day!

Mike Richards

I suppose the silver lining is...

...that if we can export Eurofighter far and wide it'll be the biggest peacekeeper in history as not one air force will be able to get into the skies.

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Nokia knocks back N8

Mike Richards
Coat

It's a brilliant strategy when you think about it

If they can slip one more time they can release the N8 just in time to steal the iPhone 5's thunder.

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Lily Allen sues Apple over hacked Macbook

Mike Richards

Corection

That should read

'pissed off, rich and unfathomably stupid.'

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Airship race round the world planned for 2011

Mike Richards

[grin]

Chinese State Television

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Mike Richards

Quite simple really

The Graf's trip took place well north of the Equator, so will this race. Therefore neither of them will make the longest possible round-the-world trip. So the claim that this is the first round the world trip by airship is also false.

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PARIS emerges triumphant from hypobaric chamber

Mike Richards

Well done Lester

Though whether it's good idea to share all this info is an open question. You've probably got a more reliable, cheaper and less expensive device than BAE has ever managed. You should probably try dropping a nuclear weapon from PARIS 2 and get into the defence/mad dictator business.

This is getting really exciting. I do hope that the Reg will soon have a huge NASA style countdown clock on the front page, perhaps with the very lovely Ms. Bee actually doing the count to zero.

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Girl, 3, buys iPad apps, using mum's credit card

Mike Richards

For my sins...

I caught part of that report.

Apparently these bills are all Apple's fault and no responsibility should attach itself to parents downloading apps offering in-game purchases, failing to switch on parental supervision mode and then allowing their precious little snowflakes to play with their x-hundred Pound phones.

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Playboy centrefold freaks out at 10,000 feet

Mike Richards

Not just small planes

DC-10s and 747s both used outward opening cargo doors which were linked to a number of disasters when they blew open at altitude. The worst was a Turkish Airlines that crashed just outside Paris in 1974. The door had not been correctly closed, it blew open, collapsing the floor over the cargo bay and wrecking the control lines. More than 300 people died.

The second was a United 747 in 1991 whose cargo door blew open over the Pacific. Incredibly the crew got the plane back to Honolulu, but some people did die when part of the deck collapsed in the blow out. In this case, the accident was down to inferior locking bolts, IIRC, Boeing only conceded liability when families of the deceased paid for their own investigation.

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Mike Richards
Coat

Cabin doors to automatic and cross check

Close. Automatic on the doors means that they are armed so that the escape slides will be deployed if the door is opened. Setting them to manual when the plane arrives at the airport disarms the slides so the door can be opened without turning the plane into a theme park attraction.

Cross-check is where each member of the cabin crew checks the work of their partner on the other side of the plane.

Mine's the one which must not be inflated until after leaving the aircraft.

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Voice of America chap ejaculates over Paris Hilton

Mike Richards

Wow!

Gentlemen, I think we have ourselves the first cat fight between the Register and the American government. This could run and run (hopefully)

Let's hope Lester didn't have any plans to visit the Land of the Free any time soon.

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Osborne plucks strange fruit from the loon tree

Mike Richards

Two aircraft carriers

Buy one - get one free.

Will also throw in surplus Eurofighters and a collection of vintage Nimrods (good as new (i.e. not very)). Personal collection only, no time wasters.

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Police, ACPO, public set to clash on filming rights

Mike Richards

Thanks for the strawman Mr Copper

"Taking one interpretation to its extreme to illustrate a point, do we really want to move to a situation where anyone found in the middle of "happy-slapping" a victim can claim their material has journalistic privilege – and refuse to hand their mobile phone over to the police?"

Actually I'd rather hope the police were bright enough to realise that the perpetrator of a criminal act has slightly fewer rights about withholding evidence than that of someone innocently filming a legal demonstration.

But on the strength of this, I have to wonder.

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Think tank rages at NHS' £700 bill for fertility clinic porn

Mike Richards

Just a guess

I suspect such synthetic outrage on the grounds of morality and cost can only mean she reads (or indeed edits) 'The Daily Express'.

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Royal Society opens inquiry into why kids hate tech

Mike Richards

Fun is the hook

If people can have fun at the beginning they are more likely to stick with it later on when things get harder. If they know a small amount of knowledge can result in something brilliant, they're intrigued by the possibilities when they have a lot more knowledge.

Compare that to teaching programming of old - hours in front of a text editor to write, compile and debug a program that does bugger/all. Kids today have games consoles and mobile phones; they expect rich media, internet connectivity from the very start. There is no way you can persuade anyone other than a tiny minority that starting off with hello_world.c and progressing to hello_name.c is worth it. They want something that is going to engage them from the very start.

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Mike Richards

School IT = using Office

I've done various outreach projects with schools and everything is wrong about the teaching they're getting through the National Curriculum. Programming is rarely taught (after all, almost no machines come with a beginners' programming language like the old BBC B), instead kids are taught that IT means being able to find something using Google, copy and paste it into Word and export the whole Comic Sans horror as HTML or a Powerpoint presentation.

Instead, if you follow Seymour Papert and Alan Kay's lead and get kids PLAYING with technology they quickly find a use for programming, engineering, math - you name it. You don't even need to stand there teaching - they'll go off and find out what they need, hack code together, bodge something that works - and have fun.

The two best technologies out there at the moment are Scratch (scratch.mit.edu) and LEGO Mindstorms. More advanced children might then want to go on to Alice.

And if you haven't played with any of those - the good news is that Scratch, Mindstorms and Alice are also good for adult learners and experienced programmers alike.

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PARIS team cracks Vulture 1-X wing

Mike Richards

Turning these bodging skills into a paid job

Imagine Lester as a Blue Peter presenter.

There'd only be one episode before the broadcasting licence was revoked, the BBC complaint line would be in melt down and a whole generation of kids in therapy - but it'd be awesome.

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Home Office unveils new UK passport

Mike Richards

Has anyone noticed

That even though the cost of passports was put up to help pay for ID cards, the price hasn't fallen since Blunkettcards were consigned to oblivion?

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BBC adopts El Reg units

Mike Richards

You must have scary lawyers

Because it's now back to cubic metres.

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BT ad banned for 'misleading' customers over broadband speeds

Mike Richards

I've been looking forward to the ad

Where following his conviction for downloading high speed porn using BT's network, the undead corpse of Maureen Lipmann's Beattie strangles the daft bint with a modem cable.

It's a feel-good comedy. Hello Hollywood?

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Skeletal scanner would ID terrorists from 50 meters

Mike Richards

Not as far fetched as you might think

'So only terrorists and pedophiles have unique bone structures??'

Latest research (Morris, Fox et. al. (2001)) suggests that paedophiles have 'have more genes in common with crabs than they do with you and me.'

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Secret X-37B space plane lost by sat-spotters for 2 weeks

Mike Richards

Shuttle polar orbit

The reason the Shuttle never flew out of Vandenberg was because Challenger exploded.

The Air Force had already been getting cold feet over the Shuttle's poor record of getting into space on schedule, Challenger was the final nail in the coffin.

As you said, polar orbits required extra oomph! to get into space; the USAF would have required ultra-light SRBs to make this possible. These would have been even more prone to joint failure than those used on Challenger, so there was no way the programme could continue. Instead the USAF went back to Titan IV rockets which came with their own set of problems:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqlgUuYQU30&feature=related

Of course, if the USAF hadn't insisted on cross-range capability for the Shuttle, then NASA could have had a simpler, lighter, less fragile machine to do their work and the manned space programme probably wouldn't be in the mess it is now.

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Ball player gets Beaver ban after drunken naked tasering

Mike Richards

Come on someone has to say it

Footballer?

Oh you mean AMERICAN football.

Bless.

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LucasFilm sets lawyers on Jedi nameswipers

Mike Richards

'pretend religion'?

I'd love a definition of how a pretend religion differs from any other.

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Cops cuff armed white supremacist in banana costume

Mike Richards

Not just Playmobil

It kinda needs animating to the glorious soundtrack of Yackety Sax.

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Black helicopters circle 'Welsh Roswell'

Mike Richards

Earth lights

There's another scientific explanation that the lights on the mountain were produced by the same geological stresses that created the earthquake on the Bala Lineament.

The phenomena is known as earth lights which although they've been recorded on film and are generally acknowledged as real, remain unexplained. They've been reported around the World during other earthquake episodes, but there's precious little research into them. The best two explanations are either quartz-rich rocks being crushed in the fault producing huge amounts of piezoelectricity, or disturbances to the Earth's magnetic field.

http://www.isfep.com/FF_EQ_SSE_2003.pdf

http://inamidst.com/lights/earthquake (photos)

IIRC there's quite a history of strange lights in that part of the world, with a near epidemic of sightings in the first few years of the 20th Century.

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Mike Richards

Meteorites don't smell of iron

Yep, I've played with meteorites of all types and whilst they are insanely cool, they don't smell of sulfur. In fact they don't smell at all.

There's a remote possibility that a freshly fallen meteorite might have a flinty smell from its passage through the atmosphere when the surface would have burned off; but even that seems unlikely as people who've actually been there to see a meteorite land generally report that they're cold or only just warm.

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Iran unveils 'robot bomber'

Mike Richards

Erm...

'israel and australia have nukes supplied by their "friends" in the U.S.'

Ummm...

Israel's bomb was home grown, although not without a lot of help from the French (the Dimona reactor and the reprocessing plant) and Britain (plutonium and lithium 6).

But the bit I'm trying to work out is - Australia? Apart from the British blowing up large chunks of the Outback, Australia has never had nuclear weapons.

As you point out (I think) Iran is perfectly within its rights under NPT to have a civil programme, mine uranium, perform enrichment and even reprocess plutonium. It does not have the right to militarise any part of that system. Unfortunately the NPT is pretty much toothless.

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DARPA orders VTOL robots for 'covert payload placement'

Mike Richards

First paragraph joy

It was almost like Humph had become a defence correspondent.

Go home Lewis, your work here is done.

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PARIS acquires visual tracking capability

Mike Richards

I'm not worried about Google surveillance anymore...

...but I'm now seriously concerned that Lester has access to a telescope.

[drawing the curtains]

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MOON SHRINKING FAST - shock NASA discovery

Mike Richards

'Geologically recent'

On the Moon, 'recent' means anything after the formation of the Mare (the dark areas seen from Earth) which ended around 1 billion years ago.

The Moon is still seismically active as there are regular moonquakes which come in a variety of flavours. There are deep quakes which can go down to about 700km which seem to be associated with lunar tides, then there are the very shallow weak thermal 'quakes which are kicked off when at lunar dawn when temperatures skyrocket and rocks expand. In between there are shallow 'quakes down to about 30km which are caused by crustal movements. These tend to be bigger - IIRC the biggest measured by Apollo sensors was Richter 5.something. So rocks are definitely moving - why, well that's an interesting question. But it is only creating a tiny fraction of the seismic activity found here on Earth.

There's also some suggestion of intermittent volcanic activity or outgassing. Astronomers regularly report seeing glowing patches of light around certain craters which go by the name of Transient Lunar Phenomena:

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

Finally there are similar scarps on Mercury known as rupes. The accepted explanation is that Maercury's surface cooled relatively quickly and became rigid before the underlying Mantle and Core solidified. As the Core and Mantle cooled and contracted, the crust buckled along the rupes.

Nice image here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Rupes_discovery.jpg

The scarp is the dark line running almost vertically through the middle of the image cutting through the large crater. It's 2km high.

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Jackal novelist blames NSA for wife's laptop hack

Mike Richards

Don't believe a word of it...

...are we meant to believe he was writing a story for the Daily Express that didn't involve immigrants or Princess Diana?

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Apple iMac 21.5in 2010

Mike Richards

Well said

My parents' iMac needs replacing and Apple really aren't offering an entry level machine any more. Whether it's replaced by a Mini or an iMac it'll be the best part of a thousand quid and they'll end up with a machine much more powerful than they really need.

Surely its time to go back to the small cheap computer that the Mini started off as.

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People have NO BLOODY IDEA about saving energy

Mike Richards

Glass

Glass *might* be more environmentally friendly as a whole than aluminium when you take into account the enormous amounts of energy needed to mine, purify and transport bauxite before you smelt the metal. Bauxite mining is incredibly damaging to the environment as it requires large areas to be strip mined. Quite often this land was either used for raising crops or a virgin environment; afterwards, even if it is restored, its drainage is disrupted and a lot of the biodiversity is shot.

By comparison, glass can usually be made with locally sourced materials - and as posted above, can be reused. The good old-fashioned milk bottle or the deposit scheme on soda bottles are ways of getting bottles back into circulation.

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Croydon Advertiser blows lid on 'sinister' brothel

Mike Richards

Sinister?

Does that mean green lights, dry ice and ominous organ music?

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Electric mass-driver catapults to beat Royal Navy cuts?

Mike Richards

And in a time of spending cuts and an overstretched defence budget...

...you really need to pour more money into unproven defence technologies. Let's face it, sooner or later BAE are going to get involved and the whole thing will end up running late, and either not working or need to be fixed by the Americans. This is (yet another) defence disaster waiting to happen.

Has anyone ever really explained what these carriers are for? Because with the rest of the armed services being hollowed out they come across as nothing more than big, impressive bits of ironmongery we can sail around the world in the hope of impressing someone. But will more likely turn out to be impressive bits of ironmongery we can't afford to sail around the world in the hope of impressing someone.

Surely a fleet of ships like HMS Ocean would be more useful, cheaper and let us throw our toys out of the pram in a major league power sort of way?

Last week the BBC was reporting the MoD is considering cutting back our helicopter squadrons to make ends meet - you know the helicopters we're short of. And this is *before* anyone has worked out how to pay for the Royal Navy's submersible white elephant. The rate we're going the only military action open to us will be to explode a nuke - whether the provocation was a bijou invasion of Blighty or a kid chucking a brick at a squaddie.

Seriously, has no one at the MoD worked out they can't have everything they want?

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CEOP claims success for Facebook 'panic button'

Mike Richards

What they're saying is...

The button has been pressed 211 times.

Without any evidence or even prosecutions this figure from the endlessly self-promoting Jim Gamble is worthless.

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ASA: You can't say 'f**k'

Mike Richards

Clarification needed

Is it the trailing 'k' that makes f**k offensive to the ASA. If I were to write f*** in my screamingly witty advertising would that be okay?

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Police told terror ads too terrifying offensive

Mike Richards

Clearly the real problem lies in...

...the completely unregulated market in curtains.

For some unfathomable reason it's perfectly acceptable in modern society to go into a shop and spend hundreds of pounds on a set of completely opaque curtains without having to go through a background check or show identity.

I'm glad ACPO have clarified the problem, now we need to know more about this shady operation which goes under the innocent cover name of 'John Lewis'.

The Home Office: Be Safe, Be Suspicious.

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UK set for eBook pricing showdown

Mike Richards

One extra cost of eBooks

Unlike normal books they are VATable. But there's no reason why they should be MORE expensive than regular dead trees.

Oh and why so many typos in eBooks? Things like a 1 where it it should be an l, a 5 in place of an s, strange spacing - are they optically scanning books to turn them into eBooks? And these are on books released in the last five years, so there should be an electronic manuscript somewhere.

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Mike Richards

Typos

Loads of them in books sold through Watersones.

The worst being China Mieville's 'Perdito Street Station' in which whole chunks of the book had been randomly duplicated throughout the text making it effectively unreadable. And their conversion of 'Voices' by Arnaldur Indriðason is poor - okay they're having to deal with Icelandic names and places, but Unicode supports Icelandic characters. The book has them all correct and present, in the eBook they are missing or completely incorrect ones substituted. If I was an author I would be furious at the way my work was being treated.

Waterstones don't want to know about bad conversions, you'll have to fight to get your money back.

So far nothing wrong with Kindle titles, but I've heard of some titles having an eccentric approach to page setting and spelling.

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Independent bigs up the 'Wanky Balls festival'

Mike Richards

Don't knock the Indy

After all they identified el Reg as a hotbed of lesbian Internetitude.

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Moon actually dryer than dem dry bones, say boffins

Mike Richards

It's a simplification

This boils down (ahem) to the fact that so far as rocks are concerned hydrogen is almost always there because they've been in contact with water during their formation. Lunar rocks are almost all igneous rocks that have crystallised from a melt, so if you find hydrogen in the minerals, you know there was water dissolved in the magma. Here on Earth, dissolved water can account for several percent of magma by volume. As magma cools, the water can either be ejected from the solidifying rock, or it can be incorporated by created hydrous minerals such as hornblende, micas and serpentinite.

What's unusual about lunar rocks is that they are almost entirely made up from anhydrous minerals making it very likely there was no water circulating when they were crystallising. The current results have come to a similar conclusion through a different means.

Lack of water on the Moon is quite significant as it helps support a theory that the Moon began life as an extremely hot object - far hotter than would be normal for its size - suggesting it was created by a massive impact on the Earth. It also helps geologists work out the rate the Moon solidified and perhaps if the lunar interior is still molten. Water dissolved into magma dramatically reduces the melting point of the rock. If there isn't any in the lunar Mantle it makes it highly unlikely that the interior contains any molten rock and that makes it even less likely that there is any ongoing, or even (geologically speaking) recent vulcanism.

HTH.

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Mike Richards

Wrong end of the stick

Sorry Lewis, this changes nothing about the possibility of mining ice at the Lunar poles.

This research has nothing to do with asteroidal or cometary water on the Moon; it's to do with primordial composition of the Moon's Mantle where the lunar basalts originated. Essentially they were asking the question 'was water present when the Moon was largely molten?'

And the answer appears to be 'no'. It confirms what has long been suspected - the lunar interior doesn't seem to contain much dissolved water - unlike the Earth. It also helps support the theory that the Moon was formed when something about the size of Mars hit a partially differentiated protoEarth, splashing off a lot of the less-dense, metal poor Mantle and whacked up the temperature to the point that anything with a low vapourisation point was boiled away. Since Apollo brought back lunar samples there's been quite a lot of evidence that the Moon was water-poor and had a high temperature origin, this helps confirm it.

There might well be ice at the poles or at isolated places in the regolith, but that will have arrived later in comets rather than come up from below.

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Apple iPhone app patent claim 'doesn't feel right'

Mike Richards

What's the syringe icon for?

Does it let you use cell phone tringulation, GPS and the iPhone's internal compass to find the nearest dealer?

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Elon Musk plans new Mars rockets bigger than Saturn Vs

Mike Richards

Russians solved that problem

The N1's real problems were down to quality control (one rocket exploded when either welding slag or a loose bolt was sucked into a turbine) - so they fitted filters, and to the computer software controlling the engines - which they gradually debugged.

The N1 was killed by Brezhnev before its fifth test launch which the engineers were confident would work. But America had got to the Moon, the Soviet economy was beginning to stagnate and they needed to find the money to design a rival to the Space Shuttle.

I'd be more worried that they're talking about a new rocket design that can't survive a single engine failure. Saturn could (and did) complete its mission with one engine out. The Shuttle can get to orbit on two main engines (one in the last few minutes of flight). Let's hope they don't think of putting people on top of that one.

Besides, why are we buggering around with rockets at all? Project Orion now please - 6000 tonnes to orbit on the back of 800 nuclear explosions - what's not to like?

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Navy SEALs to deploy armoured dogs in A'stan

Mike Richards

Missing information

How exactly do you train a dog that's prepared to fall out the back of a plane without chewing its handler's arm off?

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