* Posts by Mike Richards

3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

ID card astroturf - No2ID beats the truth out of IPS

Mike Richards

Anyone else got this vision?

Of Meg Hillier wandering around the country thrusting her ID card under people's noses saying - 'look! look! it's me! I can prove my identity with one of these!'

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Swiss do lady-friendly iPhone 4 launch

Mike Richards

Clearly this is the real reason for...

...the burkha!

All Swiss geeks can cover themselves in a small tent and queue up for an iPhone safe in the knowledge that if Orange get a little too intrusive as to your gender you can slap a fatwa on them.

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Chilean tarantulas menace Bolton

Mike Richards

These things freak me out

So would a 20 MT thermonuclear explosion centred on Oldhams Estate in Sharples be considered an over-reaction?

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Daily Star is sorry for Grand Theft Auto Raoul Moat blunder

Mike Richards

Looks like a promising future for journalism...

...at the Daily Star's new stablemate - Channel 5.

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Samsung UE46C8000 3D TV

Mike Richards

Cable tidies

It'd be nice if the manufacturers of TVs remembered we all have to put cables into the things and fitted them with some form of cable tidy - if not to neaten the back, to reduce the strain of heavy cables pulling on fragile sockets.

Oh and this set in particular - a start-up noise? Dear god why?

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Before the iPad, there was the Newton

Mike Richards

Not so down on the eMate

Sadly my 2100 is no more, but I was surprised to find the eMate still booted. And it's a clever piece of kit that could have gone places with a little more time and effort on Apple's part. Think about it, a computer designed for kids - a tough polycarbonate case that can survive being dropped, a carry handle, completely solid state, easy to use software, and able to share resources over a network - hmmmm sounds awfully like the OLPC XO-1.

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The Wrath of Jobs' latest victim: Motorola

Mike Richards

No, you've all got it wrong

Haven't you all realised this is a huge problem for the smartphone industry? For years and years now they've been shipping defective handsets that lose signal strength if you foolishly choose to hold them; but no one had noticed.

Except Steve Jobs - he saw there was a problem and in his neverending quest for perfection decided to alert the world. He ordered Apple's unparalleled designers came up a handset that loses signal if you so much look at it; invested in a hugely expensive advertising campaign to promote the 'wrong' way to hold the phone - and look what happened - phone signal strength is headline news!

Success - but are we thanking him for this?

It's only thanks to Steve Jobs that the industry was forced to confront this shameful situation.

[warning post may contain traces of sarcasm]

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UK's Zephyr robo sun-plane in record-buster 2-week flight

Mike Richards

Alternatively...

We could use it to surveillance Scandinavia in the summer months. After all, is it just me who suspects the Swedes are up to something bigger than ruthlessly dominating the flat pack furniture and Eurovision market?

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UK Skylon spaceplane set for engine test in '3-4 years'

Mike Richards

Likes F.A.B. to me

As someone who grew up overdosing on Gerry Anderson programmes, this is what the future is meant to look like.

Ridiculously swoopy exterior - check!

Ludicrous high technogubbins - check!

I want one now.

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MPs call for crackdown on pre-paid credit cards

Mike Richards

god help us all

I bet you these cards are used to buy made-up drugs like cake.

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Hitachi hides Magic Wand vibrator under a bushel

Mike Richards

So informative

I can't wait for the 'Which?' report on this.

It'll probably get better reception than the iPhone as well.

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Raptor over Blighty: Watch the stealth fighter in infrared

Mike Richards

Isn't Typhoon meant to be an air superiority fighter?

In which case it is perfectly reasonable to compare the two planes.

Unless of course BAE have suddenly decided it's an awesome ground attack plane and are busy charging us again to turn Typhoon into a dead dog like the Tornado ground attack variant which was slightly better at killing its crews than Iraqis in Gulf War 1.0

Oh and it looks a bit crap too - compared to the sci-fi swoopiness of the Raptor or even the Russian fighters, it looks all cheap and nasty. Two things Typhoon most certainly isn't.

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Mike Richards

American SST

It's also worth pointing out the US spent as much on their SST as we did on Concorde. We got the most gob-smackingly gorgeous, stunning piece of technology since someone thought of knocking the edge off a piece of flint; They got a plywood model and a huge chip on their shoulder.

It must have been even more embarrassing when they realized the Soviet Union had also got a working SST and they didn't.

Does anyone think over-land supersonic flight would have been banned if the US had an SST of their own?

And I'm not sure how many passengers would have wanted to get on an all titanium Mach 3 jet - the Blackbird's tanks only seal when the airframe gets hot.

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Mike Richards

Hmmm

I wonder how long this American high mindedness will last if the Saudis decide to buy Typhoons; especially when Tel Aviv gets on the phone to say their F15s are getting mighty old...

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Steve Jobs denies Judas Phone antenna problems

Mike Richards

Ah so it wasn't just me

Who thought that was a very strange way to compare two phones. Especially after telling us that AT&T doesn't let on how many calls are dropped.

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Daily Mail promotes 'the new Betamax'

Mike Richards

Can't be long

Before the Mail runs a story that DAB gives you cancer.

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Our Vulture 1 aircraft begins to take shape

Mike Richards

Well done Lewis

Is this a prototype which will be tested to destruction, or the final PARIS?

If the former, please be aware I am available at very short notice for all forms of experimental testing and will bring my own 2lb geological hammer and thermite.

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Underground tunnel complexes FOUND ON MOON

Mike Richards

Not quite

'When the lava cools and solidifies, there is often an open space left above its surface, forming a tunnel.'

The surface of the lava cools rapidly and solidifies to form the hard surface, but the conductivity of basalt is so low the lava in the middle of the flow continues to remain liquid. The molten lava flows downhill under gravity and reappears near the toe of the flow advancing it somewhat. Eventually the supply of new lava from the vent ceases, the remaining lava in the tube drains downhill and you're left with a tube. If you go to Hawaii or Iceland you can walk along some lava tubes and they are very spooky places.

Similar tubes have also recently been spotted on Mars.

On a selenological note - if they're big enough they might make a good place to build a lunar base as the overlying rock will provide some insulation from heat, cold and any meteorites whizzing around.

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iPhone 4 fix to centre on software, negate need for recall

Mike Richards

The bumper doesn't fix the REAL problem

Apple better hope the solution lies in software, because the bumper isn't going to help. Yes it fixes the dropped signal issue - but the real problem for Apple is the growing perception that the company has produced a lemon.

Apple can continue to advertise the phone *as a phone* without bumpers - in which case they're possibly guilty of misleading advertising; or they can run adverts with the phone + bumper showing one of the f'ugliest things I've seen in a long time. Every time you see an iPhone + bumper you're going to think 'ah yes, that's the phone you can't talk on.' And Apple's rivals won't have to try too hard to find their advertising pitches.

If Apple thinks the 'solution' is to cover up their design it's a reasonable question to ask 'why do you pay Jonathan Ive?' There's little point in going to the expense of designing beautiful hardware if it only works when covered up.

The only long term solution is a fix that means the bumper is optional - even if you want to make telephone calls; rather than a necessary piece of the kit.

This problem is probably even more serious than Microsoft's 360 failures. Microsoft could at least claim the RRoDs only appeared after prolonged use and that it hadn't appeared in testing. If the WSJ's sources are correct, then Apple had been made aware of shortcomings in the design but chose to ship anyway.

The iPhone 4 - it's a great iPod but a terrible phone.

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Apple spews Judas Phone signal bar 'fix' to world+dog

Mike Richards

Yup

Pick it up and it goes from four bars to 'No-service' in thirty seconds flat.

Kudos to Apple, I'm pretty sure my phone turns into a brick *even faster* after installing this update.

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Mike Richards

UK as well

I'm on O2 and the problem is as bad as ever after the patch.

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Yorks cops charge Segway rider under 1835 road law

Mike Richards

The use of the word 'carriage' is a good one

Because it's not too specific and can be extended to other forms of wheeled transport without requiring the text of the law to be rewritten. It's left to the courts to decide if a mode of transport is a carriage or not. If only more law was written like this (but then I'd prefer Roman Law anyway rather than our system, but that's getting me started...)

Meanwhile.

There's a similar case; Corkery v Carpenter (1950), where a man was found guilty of being drunk in charge of a 'carriage' under the Licensing Act of 1872. The court ruled (and it has been subsequently upheld) that bicycles constitute carriages, so I don't think there's much hope of this case deciding otherwise.

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Mike Richards

Except that's not the way law is written

'I think it should be fairly self-evident that "ride" here means riding some animal, or an animal-drawn vehicle. And I think it's pretty clear even to lawmakers that such things are not motor vehicles. So.'

Had law makers wanted they would have specified animal-drawn vehicles. They did not so we can't make the assumption the law is limited to animal-drawn traffic. The law was drawn up to reduce the risk to pedestrians from ALL non-pedestrian traffic. Vehicles with engines or motors fall under its remit.

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iPhone 4 developers get software update, but will it fix death grip?

Mike Richards

Not quite

From my experience, if you're in a weak signal area the iPhone is not as good as the 3G no matter how you hold it, and if you hold it like a normal human being the signal drops to nothing in a few seconds.

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Apple to shrink MacBook Air

Mike Richards

12" Powerbook

A gem of a machine and it was sad to see it go. Best machine Apple have ever made for travelling, it was small enough to throw into a bag, and unlike most computers, tough enough to survive the tender care of airlines and the TSA.

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UK.gov abandons 2012 rural broadband pledge

Mike Richards

This is disastrous news

It keeps MLF in a job for five more years.

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India to place $11bn order for AIP hi-tech submarines

Mike Richards

Aid

The Chinese have shown that the quickest way out of poverty is to industrialise as quickly as possible and get some of the population rich enough that they can generate demand for more goods. India's trying to do it even faster and to do so through high technologies such as rockets, satellites and IT.

People are being left behind and the Indian government probably should do more to help, but if we can give money to help some of the very poorest people in the World have a life that's halfway worth living, then let's do so.

You know those billions might make up for some of the countless billions the UK stole, embezzled and extorted from the Indians during our time as the resident Imperial power.

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Boeing's 'Phantom Eye' Ford Fusion powered stratocraft

Mike Richards

I like it

It has 'danger' written all over it - quite literally.

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Blighty's stealth robojet rolls out a year late

Mike Richards

Yeah - but

Why aren't we investing that money in things people will actually buy? You know - consumer items or even some lovely high techery to help rebuild our crapped out infrastructure.

As the article says the RAF doesn't want and can't afford Taranis - so if our own forces won't have the thing who are we going to flog it to? We can't expect the Saudis to cough up now BAE has been caught bribing them for their previous crap planes.

BAE has to be the worst company in Britain and one that makes me nostalgic for our crappy nationalised car plants and steelworks. Its products are universally shite, overpriced and never less than laughably late. It's nothing more than a blackmailer - 'keep buying our lousy planes/frigates/submarines/guns or we'll fire the workforce.' Close it down, give the workers a small lottery win apiece, buy American/French/Swedish - and not only would we have stuff that works, we'd be better off.

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Life on Earth gets wiped out every 27 million years, say boffins

Mike Richards

Or even Jack McDevitt's 'Engines of God'

http://www.sfreviews.net/enginesofgod.html

(great book - none of the sequels quite match it)

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Mike Richards

Okay assuming your first paragraph wasn't a joke

Do you mean magnetic poles or geographic poles? Magnetic poles are ephemeral not only waxing and waning, but moving all the time. Yes they can degrade to such a point that the Earth is exposed to the solar wind, but these periods don't seem to coincide with mass extinctions.

The geographic poles wobble, but like the Weebles they don't fall down since they are more or less locked by the Moon.

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Crackdown 2

Mike Richards

Fun but shoddy

It's a blast to play until the glitches kick in. There's a lot of dropped frames when things get busy, the controls get unresponsive and the sound goes to crap. It's not like it's pushing the XBox to it's limits, compared to games like Just Cause 2, it looks quite dated.

If anything the first game is more technologically proficient, it's definitely more varied and a bit prettier.

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Hillier appeals to transgender community to save ID cards

Mike Richards

Meg Hillier has not left the building

'Perhaps this is not the case – and Ms Hillier is still secretly beavering away beneath their very noses.'

I kind of like the thought of Meg Hillier in the role of one of those Japanese World War II soldiers who carried on fighting for a lost cause decades after the end of all that unpleasantness.

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Ireland to block EU-Israel data hoover

Mike Richards

Thank god for the Irish

The British government should have kicked this idea back to Tel Aviv after the Israelis took to photocopying our passports en masse.

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Bendy bike inventor scores design prize win

Mike Richards

Oooh - any good?

I've got a Swissbike on order - the paratrooper was out of stock so I have to get it in namby pamby black.

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iRobot Roomba 581 robot cleaner

Mike Richards

Jesus!

I think even Kim and Aggie would throw up their Marigolds in disgust at that place.

Poor robot, it was probably disposed of as hazardous waste when it went back to iRobot.

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PARIS in hot glue gun action

Mike Richards

Not sure this is a real engineering project

Because I haven't heard mention of gaffer tape yet.

There's also a suspicious lack of photos of men with pipes and a garden shed.

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Mike Richards

Mosquito

Didn't this have a slight problem with its wings falling off?

Just saying.

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Fusion reactor eats Euro science budgets

Mike Richards

Fire up the fusor

Philo T Farnsworth's fusor has been around with modifications for about fifty years now. Unlike cold fusion where the results are still disputed it does produce reproducible results. They're also relatively cheap to build (you can make one at home if you don't mind irradiating the cat with fast neutrons), so it looks like a technology that should be investigated seriously:

http://www.fusor.net/

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Mike Richards

Hmmm they need $1.4 billion

How much did saving Northern Rock cost us?

What are the overruns on the NHS Spine?

How much for one of BAE's crappy frigates/submarines/Nimrods?

The UK, even in its current financial state could afford this and be seen as a visionary.

But we won't.

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Brighton NIMBYs complain over BT broadband upgrades

Mike Richards

As well as being a very awesome idea...

...it does point out that all these conservation societies only ever want to preserve the 'nice' bits of any period. (Manu)factories and slums aren't considered worth saving so we end up with horrors like the National Trust and Prince Charles who think the only bits of the past we should have are those that look good on the back of a tea towel and can have a tea shop attached.

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Mike Richards

Slander!

They're not being burned as witches, they're being burned as Devonians for the heresy of putting the cream on the scone* first.

* the more militant members burn people for using a scone when it should always be a split.

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First true submarine captured from American drug smugglers

Mike Richards

As the man from the DEA says:

"It is the first fully functional, completely submersible submarine for transoceanic voyages that we have ever found,"

Which must mean it's better than anything BAE have produced for a long time.

But be prepared for BAE lobbying that they need to build more multi-billion unarmed combat ships to protect the UK from South American drug smugglers.

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Beeb dubs Facebook users 'saddos'

Mike Richards

Grammar

'What about the twatterer?'

I think they're called the twatterati.

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3D TV: Avatar or Ishtar?

Mike Richards

Bang on

This is the latest way for the movie industry to get people back to the theatres. Now we've all got big screens and HD the living room is looking increasingly appealing compared to the out-of-focus, crappy print quality, fast-food, daycare centres of the multiplex.

But if they can now offer 3D that's something you can't have at home. So for a couple of years people have been drifting along to see the novelty - some good ('Up'), some bad ('Clash of the Titans') - but all highly profitable as they've been able to bump up ticket prices.

Where it all falls down is that people who actually *like* 3D are few and far between. Even those movies that haven't been post-produced to look 3D (hello 'Last Airbender') tend to look a bit murky, are hard work on the eyes and come across as LESS immersive than a well-projected (especially digitally) 2D movie. I'd be perfectly happy never to see another 3D feature ever again outside of a theme park.

So no, 3D won't persuade me to buy a new set. Bigger screen, better blacks, Internet out of the box - yes, thinner - maybe.

And if they want me back in the multiplex - well tasers for the staff, a projectionist who knows what the focus does and content that doesn't assume I left the brain at home would be a good start.

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Mike Richards

HD-DVD / Blu-Ray

The movie studios sided with Blu-Ray, probably because it offered even more DRM options.

The PS3 only helped adoption, but HD-DVD was dead by the time the PS3 actually started selling in bulk. Lucky they put Blu-Ray in the console, because it's something of a disappointment otherwise.

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Vital PARIS supplies jet in from US

Mike Richards

'Expect bulging rubber tubing and pistons in due course.'

I've heard that somewhere else before now.

But the magistrate was very understanding.

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Robotic cargo spacecraft misses rendezvous with ISS

Mike Richards

Not a biggie

The Progress has plenty of fuel and power to make another attempt at docking. This is a spacecraft with a formidable track record; there have been previous failed dockings, and you can bet the Russians will fix this.

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'Huge airships to carry freight starting 10 years from now'

Mike Richards

Not a good theory

The theory is that the aluminium powder in the doped cover (which was there to reflect heat) reacted with an iron oxide primer. As good old-fashioned chemistry practicals taught us aluminium + iron oxide + heat -> aluminium oxide + iron + mind boggling amounts of heat. This is the thermite reaction.

The theory falls apart because the concentrations of iron oxide in the primer would not have been enough to start the reaction.

It also conflicts with evidence from the ground that report seeing a glow deep inside the airship before the fire became visible on the skin; and that the ship was reportedly stern heavy on her final approach, both of which suggest a hydrogen leak deep inside the craft.

At the end of the day, hydrogen doomed the ship; the Germans had just been incredibly lucky that they hadn't lost a civilian ship before then.

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Mike Richards

Even better than blimps

Ekranoplans - much more fuel efficient than a plane and much faster than a ship. For those of us that grew up on Gerry Anderson TV they also have the added advantage of looking seriously awesome:

http://www.russia2all.com/images/shop/customer_media/7558/km-ekranoplan.jpg

(yes those are ALL engines!)

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