* Posts by Mike Richards

3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

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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Mozilla sidesteps iPhone code ban with Firefox Home

Mike Richards

iPad is different

The iPad is much closer to Jeff Raskin's definition of an 'information appliance' than the PC on your desk. The rules have changed, but it's hardly like Apple didn't announce loud and clear, 'buy an iPad, play by our rules'.

For a huge number of people, the idea of a computer they can pick up and use without worrying about labyrinthine interfaces or bastardly installations or keeping their security up to date is a dream. The iPad overcomes most of the problems of owning a PC - as the slogan goes - it just works. Apple control the hardware and distribution of software so you won't get the range found on a PC; but in exchange you get a generally better level of usability and stability over the mix-and-match install-what-you-like PC.

It's the way of the future, better get used to it. Every manufacturer is looking at the same model - think Gillette's razor blades - they tie you into the platform and then make money selling you disposable extras - except this time Apple have found a way of making the hardware profitable.

As for complaints to the OFT - on what grounds? The introduction of the iPad hasn't resulted in every other computer ceasing to work, you can still go and buy alternative machines.

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X-51 hypersonic scramjet test: Flameout at Mach 5?

Mike Richards

You're thinking right

It was the HOrizontal Take-Off and Landing - HOTOL which brought a bit of Thunderbirds flash to the 1980s before vanishing in a big puff of bureaucracy.

Its designer, Alan Bond now runs Reaction Engines:

http://www.reactionengines.co.uk/

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Copernicus reburied with full Catholic honours

Mike Richards

Oh I can't believe I'm rising to this... but needs must

'It predicted a spherical earth while many people were flat earthers.'

No it doesn't. Young Earthers like pointing to a phrase in Isaiah which uses the word 'circle'. They don't so often mention the mentions of God laying out the Earth with a compass in Job and Proverbs. You can't make a sphere with a compass.

And there were never many flat earthers. The concept of the Earth as a sphere long predates the Bible, it caused few problems for the Ancients or the medieval world. It's 21st Century Kansas that seems to have trouble with the idea of the Earth just being a lump of slowly cooling iron, nickel and silicon hanging around a gloomy part of the Milky Way that's been going gently downhill since the early Caenozoic.

'Genesis states God created light before the sun and stars which is consistent with the Big Bang Theory.'

Well if you mean that there was light before the stars then yes, the Bible is consistent with the Big Bang theory (but then gets understandably side-tracked by the whole begetting bit when it could have been explaining the role of deuterium in the early Universe).

However, your theory falls apart when you actually - ummmm - read the Bible. Doesn't the whole 'Now the earth was [a] formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.' rather suggest that even if the light appeared without stars, it's irrelevant because the water got there first?

And if you do want to discuss creation in Genesis - which one do you want? There are two irreconcilable tellings of the act of creation in Genesis 1 and 2. Either God is even more unknowable than we thought, or there was some sloppy proof-reading going on in early Palestine.

Genesis is myth and epic poetry. It's about as useful at explaining the Universe as a copy of Lord of the Rings with the saving grace that it's out of copyright and there are no crappy songs.

'It describes cities that don't exist (for which it has been criticised), but archaeologists continue to dig them up.'

You're really going to need to explain that, preferably with the aid of diagrams - they don't exist but they get dug up? I'd like to see that on Time Team. If you mean cities that have been lost then that's a different matter; but no one is seriously saying there are no historical events in the Bible - it's just that they've been buried under layer upon layer of badly translated myth.

If Bible says there was a city in a location in a (fairly tiny) part of the world with relatively little habitable space which has been settled for tens of thousands of years - and we dig up human remains - that's hardly astonishing.

If on the other hand we were to find the Ark of the Covenant, some fossilised manna or an eye witness account of the end of Sodom (preferably in the hand of the author who had been pinned down under an easily carbon dateable catamite by a large lump of falling brimstone) - that'd be different.

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Mike Richards

'Science and faith can be reconciled'

No they can't; science won. Get over it and get a job.

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Captain Cyborg sidekick implants virus-infected chip

Mike Richards

Makes you wonder what their interview procedure is like

Do they concentrate on academic output or just media whoredom?

Warwick and friends are the embarrassing relatives to Kurzweil's Singularity.

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Twitter tw*ts ad networks

Mike Richards

Translation

"Twitter is uniquely dependent on and responsible for the long-term health and value of the platform."

becomes

We still haven't made any real money or come up with a business plan for this toy.

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Dell to release first MID on 7 June

Mike Richards

It's the details that count

Dell have done an okay job on this, but as usual they've skimped on the design. Those Home and Back icons are the wrong orientation when you hold the machine in portrait format. It's a little thing, but you just know Steve J wouldn't let that happen. Okay he wouldn't let a machine out the door with THREE buttons on the front...

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Mass Effect movie deal done

Mike Richards

Oooh good

I hope there are REALLY long scenes in a lift - otherwise it won't be anything like the original.

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Atlantis spacewalkers snapped through shuttle windows

Mike Richards

Space pens

Were never a NASA project and the Soviets used felt tips for many years.

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Secret US spaceplane spotted in orbit by hobbyists

Mike Richards

That shroud

Is it really made from Lego?

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Photographers slam British Library's mission creep

Mike Richards

Not sure this is an issue

From the project's press release:

'Along with out-of-copyright material from the newspaper archive - defined in this context as pre-1900 newspaper material - the partnership will also seek to digitise a range of in-copyright material, with the agreement of the relevant rightsholders. '

http://www.bl.uk/news/2010/pressrelease20100519.html

If rights holders don't want their stuff digitised they have an opt out.

I'd prefer someone respectable like the British Library was doing this rather than it not happening at all; or individual piecemeal preservation attempts by with wildly differing standards and technologies and no central repository.

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German boffins develop sharkskin paint for ships, planes

Mike Richards

Fraunhofer-Institut für Fertigungstechnik und Angewandte Materialforschung

Do their business cards come in widescreen?

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2012 Olympic mascots cop a shoeing

Mike Richards

I preferred...

...the suggestion that the Olympics should be represented by something associated with the venue, in this case the East End of London.

So it came down to a toss up between a giant plasticised Barbara Windsor and a cuddly plush Jack the Ripper.

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US boffins synthesize self-replicating bacteria

Mike Richards

Unanswered questions

Did they use lightning and the services of a hunchbacked servant?

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The commercial cuckoo hiding in the BBC's global mission

Mike Richards

Conversely

When the BBC produces something that does badly in the ratings, the likes of the Times and the Mail come out and attack it for spending money on things that no one watches. The BBC can't win either way.

And I have no problem with the BBC making money abroad, the money comes back here and gets invested in new programming. Where does Sky's money go? The company doesn't even pay tax here. As far as I can tell it spunks its money up the wall on football rights and overpaying for TV programmes that have built a faithful audience on terrestrial.

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Clegg promises liberties restoration

Mike Richards

'big bang approach to political reform'

I prefer Guy Fawkes' big bang approach to political reform.

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Blighty to get mobe-download barcode rail tickets

Mike Richards

Booking fee

And what's the betting they'll add yet another £1 charge to the cost on top of their insurance, card fee and booking fees and call it something like a 'convenience fee'?

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The iPad, news saviour? Murdoch may have something here

Mike Richards

Not sure

I think it really depends how loyal people are to their chosen brand of newspaper/magazine. And I think the media companies will be surprised how fickle we are when something is taken away. The Times website is nicely done, the news is solid (the comment less so), but it's not so indispensable that when Rupert's paywall goes up I'll pay for it. I might miss the Times for a couple of days, but then I'll go look elsewhere for the same information.

I can think of precious few publications so wonderful that I'd pay for them to be delivered to my computer and none that will replace paper for anything other than convenience. I'll keep with my paper magazine subscriptions because I want the actual tangible item. National Geographic on a computer screen is nothing compared to the actual magazine which I can hoard, clip or share to my heart's content.

As for the iPad; Early Edition is a great little RSS reader that assembles items into a 'paper like' format - it's the closest implementation of 'The Daily Me' I've seen so far. It still needs a bit of work - being able to assemble feeds into sections would be a nice addition.

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Competitors vie to provide earthquake-proof radios

Mike Richards

Richter 10?

Apart from choosing a particularly shite Arthur C Clarke book title, why did they choose that value? It's debatable whether Magnitude 10 'quakes are even possible because there don't seem to be any faults long enough to generate them.

The best chance of experiencing one will be the next time something the size of Snowdon drops out of the sky.

So they'd better make it asteroid-proof as well.

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Norks 'have answer to humanity's greatest problem'

Mike Richards

Not always

The really big bombs of the 1950s were three-stage devices like you described. More modern warheads dispense with the depleted uranium jacket allowing them to be smaller and also a lot less planet killing.

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Steam rushes from Valve onto Macs

Mike Richards

Not really important

Portal is a free download for the next few days. Get it now.

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US Navy's plane-hurling mass driver in tech hiccup

Mike Richards

Name

When the USS Theodore Roosevelt or the USS Kennedy was steaming your way you knew you were in trouble - I'm not sure the knowledge that the USS Ronald Reagan or the USS Gerald Ford* are en-route will have the same effect. And god only knows the reaction to Dubya sliding down the slipway.

* Who was famously said not to be able to walk and chew gum. Maybe his namesake is a similar underachiever?

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Identity & Passport Service in suicide bid?

Mike Richards

Family only, no flowers

Can the Reg get a quote out of Meg Hillier, who on top of finding herself out of a job, now has a bit of plastic in her wallet that can't even get her out of the country*. Perhaps it'll come in handy if we keep having these frosty mornings.

* Other question. Did she pay for that card, or did we?

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Trident, nuke energy looking poorly under LibCons

Mike Richards

Worth remembering

It was the Conservatives who killed the nuclear industry in this country when they came to the belated realisation that the business of splitting atoms was a bottomless sink for public money.

Nothing in the last 20 years suggests that the financial argument for nuclear power has become any more compelling.

As for the fans of FBRs here; there were many reasons they never took off (metaphorically); fixing the plumbing so that molten sodium didn't keep coming into contact with boiling water was one, but they died a painful death when the economics of reprocessing spent fuel became clear. Regular nuclear power is expensive, reprocessing makes it look like a bargain.

And do we really want to be in a situation arguing why its perfectly acceptable for us to be producing tonne quantities of plutonium, but not energy hungry, fossil-fuel poor countries like Pakistan?

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Mike Richards

Maybe

But we probably don't have the skills to build a warhead.

Ever since MacMillan had his Bermuda holiday with Kennedy, Britain has been more or less dependent on American technology for everything from the warhead design to the missile and guidance systems right down to the tritium that makes a satisfyingly large apocalypse. In return I think we've provided them with some plutonium when they ran short.

Our current city killers are clones of the American W76s with a Union Jack sticker on them.

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Mike Richards

Genius!

The best summary of defence policy ever.

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Waterstone's whips out its pendulous dugs

Mike Richards

Ooooh classy

'BookVendia' - I like it - it's got a streetwise camel case that'll look great on a carrier bag. I hope you've trademarked it for six months time when Waterstone's need yet another rebrand to try and ignore the fact they're a really shite bookstore.

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QinetiQ lends PARIS a helping hand

Mike Richards

So...

...which member of the Reg team will be reporting live (well, at least initially) from inside the chamber?

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Cameron aims to bring LibDems into government

Mike Richards

They've already had one

Blair promised an inquiry into electoral reform before the 1997 election (when he thought he might need the LibDems to secure a Commons majority). Roy Jenkins ran an extremely thorough inquiry and settled on Alternative Vote Plus.

Essentially there would be five-hundred constituencies where voters ranked candidates. If no one got an outright majority on first preference votes, then there would be a recount with the less popular candidates dropping out one by one (least popular first) with their alternate votes being redistributed amongst the remaining candidates until one goes over 50%.

On top of that, there would be county level seats where voters ranked parties. The representatives would be chosen from a list like that used in the European election.

AV+ is a pretty good system it keeps a link with constituencies and it would achieve a much better representation of people's wishes.

Blair went cold on it when he had his landslide.

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Jacqui Smith and Charles Clarke shown the door

Mike Richards

oooh I'd forgotten about Meg...

Meg Hillier (yep, I had to keep checking the name) actually INCREASED her share of the vote! Worse still, an actual majority of voters put their crosses next to her name.

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