* Posts by Mike Richards

3595 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

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

Mike Richards

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

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

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

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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UK head of online child protection resigns

Mike Richards

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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Google open sources JPEG assassin

Mike Richards

Not forgetting

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

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EU sues UK.gov over Phorm trials

Mike Richards

*** 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Institut für Fertigungstechnik und Angewandte Materialforschung

Do German signwriters get paid by the metre?

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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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