* Posts by Mike Richards

3595 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Pakistan set to ban more web blasphemy

Mike Richards

Forwards towards the glorious 12th Century!

While India is turning itself into a 21st Century superpower powered by science and innovation, Pakistan is burying its head in the sand. This sort of thinking (alongside widespread campaigns against Western concepts encompassing everything from rights for women to evolution) is crippling its economic future and giving no hope to its people that they can ever be raised out of genuine horrific poverty.

With the exception of anyone working in Pakistan's nuclear programme, the future doesn't look bright. And for the rest of us, the fact a country with these sort of people making decisions has a nuclear programme doesn't bode well at all.

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UK arms industry 'same as striking coal miners' - Army head

Mike Richards

The only problem with this is...

Thatcher WAS in charge of the country when most of the current batch of white elephants lumbered off the drawing board. She was just as in love with BAe as her successors.

Perhaps now is the time to bring back the Sandys report and scrap all manned aircraft in favour of unmanned whooshy things.

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Vauxhall Ampera extended range e-car

Mike Richards

Built in Europe

Though where precisely hasn't been decided. If you're lucky it'll come out of one of GM's German plants.

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Mike Richards

Looks

It looks like an American's idea of what a European saloon should look like, after having a Maserati described by a mime artist.

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Sony Vaio P netbook

Mike Richards

Colour

Does it come in any shade of sane?

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Future quantum computers could be made of... silicon?

Mike Richards

Apple should make the first quantum computer

It'll deter people from trying to upgrade their machine if they know popping open the box might kill the undead cat that makes everything work.

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Buyer's Guide: 3D TVs

Mike Richards

Correction

'so you don’t have to worry about buying the wrong type of 3D TV and then being left with an expensive and obsolete piece of kit when one format wins out over the other'

Instead, you can now worry about buying a 3D TV and then being left with an expensive and obsolete piece of kit when you finally realise how much you've got to pay to equip family and friends with the bloody glasses.

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Want Olympic tickets? Better get a VisaCard then

Mike Richards

Beastly foreigners

Will be able to use Mastercards. It's just those of us who are paying for the fiasco won't get a choice in which way we actually pay to see what we built.

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Dixons renames itself Dixons

Mike Richards

'Lower stock levels'

Ah that explains why they've decided to phase out floppy disks.

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Redback spiders provoke BAE lock-down

Mike Richards

BAe

You do realise these spiders are the only deadly thing to come out of a BAe factory in the last decade.

Perhaps we should replace Eurofighters with spiders (each with their own cute little parachute) nd drop those on the Taliban?

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Flying-boat tiltrotor catamaran design wins NASA compo

Mike Richards

Oh yes

And whilst we're about it could be also have one of these?

http://rides.webshots.com/photo/2695001730048918155QVwPHU

Either that or an Eagle from Space 1999.

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Apple, Google, Microsoft – are you a Brand Taliban or Brand Evangelist?

Mike Richards

Pro / anti BP?

Surely that's where this all breaks down. BP produces oil and petroleum products that are to all intents and purposes indistinguishable from every other oil company. How can you be a brand evangelist when you can't tell the difference? The only thing that really distinguishes them are their logos and okay - on that alone, BP has the best logo.

It's different where phones and computers are concerned as you can at least pick on some aspect speed/design/OS etc and love it/loathe it.

As for why we do it? Surely it's down to a need to justify our expenditure? 'I've bought brand X therefore it HAS to be the best!'

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Big EU imports of Sahara sun-power coming soon?

Mike Richards

Iceland

There've been a number of studies that have all come to the conclusion that up to 1GWe could be brought to the UK via a high voltage DC cable strung from Iceland to Scotland for less than the cost of a nuclear power station. The Icelanders would probably be happy as it would allow them to sell power at a commercial rate rather than the heavily subsidised rates used by aluminium and ferrosilicon plants.

Though there is growing concern in Iceland at the environmental effects of large-scale hydro power (which supplies about 75% of their output). At the moment they have a power surplus (which must be nice), but there are extremely controversial plans to put more dams on the epic Þjórsá near Hekla. What they'll do with this power is uncertain, aluminium smelting is deeply unpopular as it doesn't require much skilled labour and all the value is added when the metal leaves Iceland. So there is a big push to get server farms to come to Iceland - there's a huge one at Keflavík and even the prospect of solar silicon manufacture.

But why risk those when there's a big island to the South that's having trouble keeping the lights on?

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Mike Richards

Would it be photovoltaic?

Since most of the large solar schemes tried out in California and Spain have been solar-thermal plants which have higher efficiencies and can generate power at night by storing heat in molten salt.

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Huge new airships for US Army: designed in Blighty

Mike Richards

Well let's hope it works better this time round...

...the last airship we sold to the US exploded over the Humber:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R38_class_airship

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Twitter on a ZX Spectrum

Mike Richards

Ah the Dragon

Wasn't that the machine where every game had green on green graphics?

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Tom Stoppard: Tech is destroying the written word

Mike Richards

As Plato once said about writing

'And in this instance, you who are the father of letters, from a paternal love of your own children have been led to attribute to them a quality which they cannot have; for this discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners' souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust to the external written characters and not remember of themselves.

'The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.'

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ThinkGeek trembles before Pork Board's pork sword

Mike Richards

'what does sparkly unicorn flesh taste of?!'

A little like griffin.

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Kim Jong-Il in radish inspection shocker

Mike Richards

Wow!

Just one of these could cause more destruction that either of his nuclear weapons.

And heaven only knows how powerful they'd be mixed with kimchi (think nerve gas without any of the pleasant aspects).

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A Rumba with a Roomba

Mike Richards

UK prices

Start at about £270 go up to £400ish depending on the model and what else they throw in the box.

I have a 560 (recently discontinued but still available whilst stocks last) which cost about £350 for which you get the robot, mains supply, docking station, two navigation lighthouses, replacement filters and some maintenance tools. Further up the pricing you get bigger dust collectors and a remote control.

HTH.

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Mike Richards

It is a vacuum cleaner

So don't worry. The rotating brush is there to bring dirt into reach of Roomba's terrifying maw.

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Mike Richards

New models vs old models

If you can - get the 560 rather than the replacement 555.

The 560 comes with lighthouses that allow you to confine Gromit (come on you have to name them) to one room making sure that is spankingly clean before moving on to the next. The 555 only has a virtual wall which stops him from passing certain points.

But Roombas are wonderful including the little reversing sound when he rolls off his charging station.

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New leader, same old job for Martha Lane Fox

Mike Richards

An unpaid position I assume?

Since we keep being told that MLF is rich beyond the dreams of avarice I'd hope this was an unpaid position.

And while I'm here, can anyone please explain MLF's contribution to the history of the Internet? Was lastminute.com even an original idea?

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Apple's fresh Mac mini stripped naked

Mike Richards

Time Capsules

It was heat that killed the TCs by blowing their capacitors. It was probably made worse by the all-plastic construction and a nice thick layer of rubber on the bottom. After my original one went bang, Apple replaced it with one of the newer designs which runs much cooler - the top surface is barely warm.

The MM will probably also benefit from having an aluminium case that doubles up as a radiator.

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Did ID card applications surge after scheme was scrapped?

Mike Richards

leave Meg alone!

She's fabulous entertainment value.

This week she was being interviewed and said that the moves to scrap ID cards and the ContactPoint database were evidence that the Conservatives were taking us backwards rather than forwards.

I hope the Register continues to feature wacky New Lobster MP Meg Hitler long into the future.

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Russian video chat site mulls todger filter

Mike Richards

If they were clever

They'd offer a separate premium service for all those who sign on to Chat Roulette in the hope of seeing man bits.

“If he doesn't make a dramatic move soon to clean up the service, the brand will be permanently tarnished,"

Didn't the Chat Roulette brand come pre-tarnished?

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Did the iPad just save Wired, and Conde-Nast?

Mike Richards

Very pretty - but

It's practically unusable.

Navigating around the magazine is a horror as its sometimes completely impossible to work out if an article has more than one page - when you flick up to bring up the next page, or if it is one of their quirky pieces that just suddenly stops - in which case flicking up does nothing and you have to flick left. Wired's pages are so busy that there are graphical doohickies that might be clues as to where the next page might be found, or they might just be the flourishes of someone buggering around with InDesign - certainly they're not consistent.

There's no bookmarking of interesting stuff so you can refer to it later and no search - pretty basic stuff for a reader application. It's like they put all their effort into jazzing up adverts for crappy American cars rather than what the reader might want.

As a demo of what's possible it is a blinder; as something actually useful - well that 500Mb install per issue is the least of its problems.

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Lightning bolt smites 60ft Jesus statue

Mike Richards

There is a god...

...and clearly his name is Thor.

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Hayabusa in fiery return to Earth

Mike Richards

Secret mission

Was to leave Bruce Willis on the asteroid 'just in case'

Admit it - you haven't seen him recently.

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Plucky Finn attempts to drive length of Finland in small digger

Mike Richards

This is usually the point

Where someone points out that Finland isn't in Scandinavia and Finns were never Vikings.

Ah that'd be me.

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New laser raygun tech: Our sharks kick the tyres

Mike Richards

Or...

...shark fin soup with extra meaty chunks.

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Mike Richards

Having trouble visualising this one

I'm fine with the quantum hijinks, but I need more details about the scantily-clad women - preferably in the form of photos (with or without their Eee netbooks) bonus points will be awarded for going the extra mile and providing their phone numbers.

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New cycle helmets emit stench if they need replacement

Mike Richards

'I'm aiming for an aggro-reduced Tuesday.'

Even if she has to kill someone to do it.

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ID card scheme barely broke 13,000 mark, minister confirms

Mike Richards

And half of those

were probably issued to Meg Hillier just to make up for those she kept leaving behind.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 achieves orbit on maiden flight

Mike Richards

Energia

How many engines did the Energia stack have? I think it was at least eight - four on the core and whatever were on the boosters.

This is a good strategy for cost-reduction - make lots of reasonably reliable engines and a design that can tolerate a certain amount of failure rather than a few highly reliable, highly expensive engines which has traditionally been the American approach.

The Soviets of course had no choice with their engines on both the R7 and N1 - they simply couldn't build big enough engines, so they clustered lots of relatively small motors. Worked though - even the N1's engine has turned out to be a star on the Atlas V.

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Summary Care Records project lives

Mike Richards

Opt out form

You can print this out and send it to your GP's practice here:

http://www.nhscarerecords.nhs.uk/options/noscr-pamphlet.pdf

(Though bearing in mind this is an opt-out you might want to hand it in personally)

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Twitter airport bomb spoof joker launches appeal

Mike Richards

Didn't lose his job

He chose to resign as a financial supervisor in a car distribution company.

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PARIS pops down to QinetiQ

Mike Richards

Top-class British boffinry

Only let down by the inexplicable absence of anyone smoking a pipe.

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Vulture 1 GPS test: It did work, honest

Mike Richards

Good point

I assume PARIS will be carrying a Playmobil payload?

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US Navy develops toss-proof robot crane

Mike Richards

Another classic headline from Lewis

And the second line's a cracker as well.

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ID cards poster girl laments her £30

Mike Richards

She's a class act

She even gets in the old warhorse:

'Except to say if you were a law abiding citizen you had nothing to lose and everything to gain from something that carried little more information about you than your supermarket loyalty card.'

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Ballmer, black turtlenecks, and Microsoft's next big idea

Mike Richards

Xbox

Xbox was a blinder. Yes they burned money to do it and the 360 had some unforgiveable quality control issues, but Microsoft did a good job here.

Microsoft muscled its way into the game console market up against Sony and Nintendo (and a dying Sega hardware division). They've consistently made Sony look stupid and slow and wooed a deeply sceptical market. Not to mention the 360 is regularly still outperforming Sony's wonder console.

But their stroke of genius was XBox Live. So far they're the only console company which have got online gaming working well, fast and made it easy to use. The Playstation Network is a joke and Nintendo aren't even in the game. And using the Xbox as a trojan horse into the living room has meant that Microsoft can push other services like Netflix and Sky to their users.

As for everything else - I really like the Zune's interface and online store - they're both better than iPod, but the hardware is so m'eh and the marketing so piss poor that I can't work out why Microsoft hasn't closed down the division.

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Rave reviews at robotic robot-roaster raygun rollout

Mike Richards

Spine-chilling

Not the robot, their use of 'thru'.

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Cray-1 resurfaces in pieces on eBay

Mike Richards

Because...

The cooling system projected outwards from the base of the system. Rather than having people tripping over it, Cray turned it into seating.

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Phoenix Mars Lander officially dead

Mike Richards

Except

You'd be writing the score using hydrated calcium fucking sulfate.

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Mike Richards

No

Chalk may well be calcium carbonate - but as any geologist will tell you, it is a very specific type of organic limestone formed from the shells of coccolithophores. To have chalk you first need to have life.

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Mike Richards

Hubble

Is never pointed at the Earth or the Sun since the amount of light hitting its sensors would cause serious damage.

HTH.

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Ten Essential... iPad Apps

Mike Richards

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen/

El Reg is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

No need for an iPlayer app

The iPlayer BigScreen works fine in Safari.

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Eurovision website goes titsup, upsets handful of fans

Mike Richards

No escape there

You can watch iPlayer in Safari at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/bigscreen/

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Blunkett threatens to sue for £30 ID card refund

Mike Richards

New Labour in a nutshell

(with emphasis on the 'nut').

He knows the *cost* of cancelling Blunkettcards in pounds and pence, but doesn't stop to think about the *value* of cancelling them - ie. not living in an Orwellian nanny state.

Like the article says he's probably really pissed off that his ID and DNA consultancies might be drying up real soon now.

But there is one thing Blunkett has taught me - and that's not to automatically feel sorry for blind people.

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