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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Verified by Visa bitchslapped by Cambridge researchers

Mike Richards

URLs

Good point, but (IIRC) some sites - like Tesco - bring up the VbV in a frame or iFrame so you can't even see the URL - only an unexpected shonky page which looks nothing like the retailer's own asking you for confidential information.

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Mike Richards

In Sweden 10 years ago

SwedBank rolled keyfobs out over a decade ago, but then their banking system seems to be somewhat better managed than the UK's.

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Mike Richards

Ah that explains it!

I'm also with HSBC and used my Visa card heavily in the run-up to Christmas buying travel tickets from all and sundry.

Christmas Eve arrives and my card is locked, meanwhile the World's Local Bank (tm) has buggered off down the pub for a bonus-fuelled piss-up.

When I eventually got through to someone called Charles (in Bangalore) they couldn't explain why the card was locked, only that certain security issues had been raised - but nothing so serious that a few minutes listening to the godawful three bar HSBC anthem (all of their long-suffering customers will know it well) couldn't put right with a short spot of [tappity] and the requisite 'have you thought about buying home insurance from HSBC?' question.

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Mike Richards

Looks like phishing

Every time I hit the dreaded VbV page I do a double-take - it looks utterly shonky as if it was knocked together by some script kiddie. Wonky fonts and justification, the company logos haphazardly placed on the page. If it at least looked like the public face of a faceless private corporation it would be mildly reassuring.

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Compulsory perv scanners upset everyone

Mike Richards

ECHR

Is nothing to do with the European Union, it's run by the Council of Europe and was created largely by British lawyers.

Having said which, the EU is also doing a lot more to protect us than our own government.

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Only nukes can stop planetsmash asteroids, say US boffins

Mike Richards

Measurements

Are these perpendicular gothic cathedrals or just the regular Roman basilica type?

And as for the nuclear weapons - roughly how many cardinals would they weigh?

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MPs frozen out of super-secret copyright talks

Mike Richards

'Junior business minister David Lammy'

He's just as clueless when professing to be the universities minister.

In a heap of really shit government officials, Lammy stands out as especially bad - forget 'Blears bad' - he makes her look competent; travel far past 'Hoon bad', take the second exit at 'Blunkett bad' and you'll still need to fill up the tank to reach the particularly pointless realm inhabited by David Lammy.

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Mike Richards

That's not how it works

I'm not sure this is going to form a new Copyright Act or whether it will simply be incorporated into a new copyright treaty (which is the prerogative of the government and does not need any debate).

There have to be three readings of the Bill in both the Commons and the Lords to enact an Act of Parliament. If Parliament is prorogued before the Royal Assent the bill automatically falls and has to start from scratch. There's almost no chance any new copyright bill could pass through these stages, even if both sides were in agreement, before the end of this Parliament.

The first reading is a formality. The government minister (or occasionally a back bencher) announces that a bill on such-and-such is going to be introduced. There's rarely a vote at this point. The real chance to change things is at Second Reading. Here's where all the debate occurs. MPs can post amendments (which must be voted on) or the whole bill can be thrown out.

The bill then goes off to committee for scrutiny (make your own jokes here). The government decides whether to accept the amendments from committee and the bill is then introduced for Third Reading. Usually this is a formality, but the amendments from committee can be voted on. However it's very restrictive and usually guillotined.

If the bill gets to this point it then goes to the Lords for three further readings and a committee stage. The Lords can also suggest amendments or reject the bill. After which it's back to the Commons. Assuming the Lords have no objections the bill goes for Royal Assent. If the Lords have suggested amendments, the government can either choose to accept them or to reject the amendments - at which point, back to the Lords again.

But I suspect, Mandelson's Law, which is fully supported by the Tories will be worded in such a way that any changes to copyright will become law without any public debate.

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Super-soldier exoskeleton to get 3-day fuel cell powerpack

Mike Richards

A nuclear powered exoskeleton

Oh my - this is the sort of things dreams are made of!

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Airport scanner staff object to vetting

Mike Richards

Yes, but look on the upside...

...a clever government will soon realise each of these images is indecent and probably breaks the law. In which case each passenger can be fined for indecent exposure with the money going to the State - let's just call it a Security Levy.

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Mike Richards

Surrender to the Pervatron!

I think I've worked this one out.

I'm a threat to mankind because I want to fly. Meanwhile the bloke operating the man-sized microwave isn't - because he's got a peaked cap.

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Police arrest MD of dowsing-rod 'bomb detector' firm

Mike Richards

'We are working on a new model that has flashing lights'

'Hello? Is that Keyboards Direct? Hi, I seem to have sprayed coffee over my old keyboard and I need a new one - now. What? You'll be right round you say? That's fantastic! Thank-you Keyboards Direct.'

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Egyptian mobile users warned off Koran-based ringtones

Mike Richards

Saint of the day and 'Daily Pope'???

Oh if only Father Ted were with us now.

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Avatards rush to name sprogs Pandora

Mike Richards

Makes a good case for the Swedish taxman

Our Nordic neighbours wouldn't put up with this nonsense; the kid would be called Annifred or Agnetha or possibly Lars.

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Mike Richards

1bn box office

Does that mean a whole lot of kids got named 'Titanic' or 'White Star Line'?

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Selfridges punts £1,800 Spanish ham

Mike Richards

Thank goodness for the banking bailout

Otherwise there wouldn't be a supply of gullible morons with huge bonuses to buy a bit of dried up pork.

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Discrimination warning over airport body scanners

Mike Richards

Approaching the Daily Mail event horizon

AIRPORT PAEDOPHILES SAW MY CHILD'S NAKED BODY

Kerry Katona's shock revelations pages 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and special commemorative pullout

Also inside. Do immigrants cause cancer? Melanie Phillips investigates.

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Is Mandy right to cut science funding?

Mike Richards

Real problem is

Mandelson is concentrating on immediate gains in relatively well understood fields where Britain will be competing against other countries - most of which will still have large manufacturing bases ready to commodotise discoveries. So even if we do find something cool, we won't be able to make it.

He should be doing a DARPA and funding seriously blue-sky research in the full knowledge that things might not work out - but if they do, we will have a field more or less to ourselves.

In short, John Naughton is bang on the money.

Oh and the majority of money will still go to the Russell Group of universities whether they deserve it or not.

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No World Cup anthem for England football heroes

Mike Richards

Football missing in on 'cashing-in' opportunity shock horror

I'm no Prince of Darkness, Simon Cowell, but did no one in the FA realise that there was an opportunity to run a prime-time, phone-in, six-month-long, Saturday night TV 'talent' contest to find the 'best' team song?

ITV are gagging for content and cash right now and here was the perfect chance to fill more of our gutter-scraping tabloids with slebs.

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Secretive Brit millionaire buys Segway Inc

Mike Richards

What do Stockholm and Milton Keynes have in common?

The answer is Segways!

One is a glorious Baltic port with stunning architecture, beautiful people and an enthusiastic embrace of the herring. The other has a large shopping centre.

But both of them are natural homes for the Segway. American visitors can zip around the Swedish capital on guided Segway tours if they find the city's frighteningly efficient public transport, or generously proportioned pavements all too European for comfort.

As for the little utopia that is Milton Keynes - the security guards at 'The Centre: MK' as it likes to be called, stand on them so they can see over the heads of shoppers.

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NASA Titan moon-balloons to run on cloud fuel

Mike Richards

Bottled gas

Is butane and/or propane, neither of which vaporises in Titanian conditions.

As for exploring the place, can't we just drop the tedious Bear Grylls on the moon and see if he can survive using nothing more than a block of frozen hexane and his underpants?

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Brown offers free laptops to deprived UK schoolkids

Mike Richards

OLPC XO-1?

Cheaper and it was designed to be suitable for bankrupt countries with lousy education and appalling infrastructure.

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China's doomed attempt to hold the world to ransom

Mike Richards

Not holding the World to ransom

It's just common sense economic policy. China needs to keep its economy growing and is aware that the next lot of cheap manufacturing countries are following along behind. Moving up the manufacturing ecosystem to produce finished objects is good practice.

As for China being left behind when the next technological leap occurs. I doubt it; their R&D (especially in rare earths) is second to none.

Oh and because it's China, I wouldn't be surprised if their mining groups end up being the ones who eventually get the contracts to extract rare earths elsewhere in the World. They'd only be following the example of Sinopec which has been tying up exclusive development contracts for oil and gas in the Middle East and Central Asia.

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Kodak strikes at Apple in iPhone, Mac patent dispute

Mike Richards

Why do these patent cases come along so late?

The iPhone's been on sale for three years, the Blackberry for even longer - and yet Kodak have only just got round to noticing an infringement?

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Avatar expands 3D TV interest

Mike Richards

What would have been nice

Is if Avatar had expanded interest in well-told, dramatically engaging, complex storytelling. But 'Dances with Wolves' for the ritalin generation didn't have any.

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New Labour bring old Nuremberg Laws to Britain

Mike Richards

Headline 'Nuremberg Laws'

The Nuremberg Laws are nothing to do with the defence plea at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial. Instead they were a series of edicts first announced at the Nazi Party Conference in 1935 which stripped Jews of German citizenship and their rights.

I think you're thinking of the 'Nuremberg Defence'.

So while the new British law is bad, it isn't comparable to the Nuremberg Laws.

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3D TV gets cold shower from Avatar man

Mike Richards

The next standards war

Oh goodie - after finally killing off HD-DVD, the media industry can get down to doing what it does best - producing any number of rival formats to sting early adopters. Bonus marks will be awarded to the company that manages to include DRM in their 3D technology.

Count me out of this one.

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Home Office picks new prof for Nutt job

Mike Richards

Not to mention...

'I imagine that other leading causes of sudden unexpected death in Spain include vehicle accidents, cot deaths and big men with moustaches, knives and an adverse disposition.'

not forgetting people being crushed by donkeys falling off church towers.

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Mini-asteroid sneaks up on Earth

Mike Richards

Meteorite sizes

Very small particles decelerate rapidly when hitting the atmosphere and are structurally robust enough that they just filter down through the air as meteoritic dust. Really big objects - think house size and above, are so massive in comparison to their surface area that they hardly decelerate at all and hit with their original velocity.

For objects between these sizes all sorts of things can happen. generally, the smaller and denser the object the more likely it is to reach the surface; however, relatively large (several metres across) stony meteorites (or the bizarre carbonaceous chondrites) tend to disintegrate through deceleration in the upper atmosphere and very little survives to hit the ground, or what lands is a shower of fragments.T =he vast majority of meteorites are made from stone, however, almost all the largest meteorites are made from structurally resilient iron/nickel.

There's been quite a lot of excitement recently caused by the release of classified data showing that relatively large objects are ploughing into the upper atmosphere and exploding on a quite regular basis. And when I say exploding - I mean think multi kiloton explosions:

http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/25/science/meteoroids-hit-atmosphere-in-atomic-size-blasts.html

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Labour MP experiences nasty video shock horror

Mike Richards

Not the big story

The fact that the changes will cement the powers of the disastrous Digital Economy Bill is what we should really be worried about. That too is going to be shoved through Parliament with the full support of the Conservatives.

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'Plutonium pinch' nips NASA

Mike Richards

We really need a new Cold War

Not just because it guarantees a ready supply of lovely Pu238, but because it means we'll get more cool-looking hardware.

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Avatar renders this earthly life meaningless

Mike Richards

Can't they just...

...watch that advert for Samsung televisions with the hummingbird? It looks just as pretty as 'Avatar' and has a better plot.

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Trouser-bomb clown attacks - how much should we laugh?

Mike Richards

That's awesome!

'Heathrow was reduced to giggling chaos this afternoon when a passenger was found to have written 'Fuck You Alan Johnson' across his buttocks in magnetic poetry'.

And getting hold of the image would be the best DPA request ever made.

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Mike Richards

Lewis and Sun readers

This is a brilliant plan but falls down with Lewis' unprovoked use of wit, sarcasm, punnery, semicolons and three-syllable words.

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Mike Richards

Knicker Bomber Glory

Either that or Fruit of the Boom.

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Enormous raygun-on-a-lorry project acquires lorry

Mike Richards

Not so useful defending Britain

A few flakes of slow and the country would be undefended until the gritters get out.

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Pants bombs vs America: The infernal conflict

Mike Richards

Improving security with Channel 4

Surely we will only be secure when the bowel-fixated Doctor* Gillian McKeith is running homeland security?

* Not really a doctor but it did get her a TV contract.

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Endeavour stays toasty in Florida chill

Mike Richards

Temperatures

The SRBs are the most obvious weak spot for low temperatures as the rubber O rings need to remain flexible. The revised SRBs now include electrical joint heaters to keep the rubber soft.

But low temperatures are a real problem as ice accumulates on metal surfaces. During take off this comes crashing loose from the gantries and can impact on the Orbiter, gouging the tiles, which dramatically affects the aerodynamics. After the Challenger launch, the tiles on the wreckage were found to have experienced hundreds of ice impacts in the very first seconds of the flight.

Finally, all that ice makes the metal surfaces of the pad slippery for workers.

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Johnson reveals ID register linked to NI numbers

Mike Richards

I feel very much safer already

Knowing that my personal information is being protected by the impossible to crack 'What was your mother's maiden name?' question.

Thank you Mr. Johnson.

BTW. Can the Reg find out how many New Labour drones have signed up for their commemorative Blunkettcard?

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Sony BDP-S760 Blu-ray disc player

Mike Richards

Component outputs (and PS3)

Can you play 1080p through component or do the movie studios assume you're a nasty pirate if you want to use those cables?

Also, I agree the PS3 is a great BluRay player, but it sucks as a DVD player if you try upscaling the image - it makes almost as noise as an XBox 360 and the image isn't any great shakes.

Just to be a total heretic, my el-cheapo Toshiba HD-DVD player does a much better job of playing upscaled DVDs, both in terms of image quality and not sounding like it's about to explode; and the few HD-DVDs that were released are indistinguishable from their Blu-Ray equivalents.

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Today is not New Year's Eve - or the end of the decade

Mike Richards

2012

The end of the World took place Tuesday just before tea time. You might have missed it because frankly, it was a bit of a cock-up. The third of the seas turning to blood was cancelled since the organising committee couldn't agree on whether calling it 'the Sea of Japan' was politically correct in this day and age; the Antichrist cried off saying that with Simon Cowell still alive all of his work was done; and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are still mired in a particularly malevolent contraflow just outside of Basingstoke (twinned with the Infernal Pit since 4004BC).

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Russia plans asteroid-defence space mission to Apophis

Mike Richards

Confidence

'"I don't remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the Earth by 2032," said Anatoly Perminov, quoted by AP.'

So they guy who's planning on shunting around a lump of rock the size of a well-proportioned ocean liner isn't exactly sure when it's due to arrive?

Well that's delightfully reassuring.

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Microsoft wants someone to turn Xbox into Xphone

Mike Richards

Cool

Can't wait to see the size of the power adaptor.

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High-speed Chinese train kicks French, Japanese butt

Mike Richards

Erm...

Isn't it a German train that just happens to be running in China?

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Fancy a lottery win? Smoke dried vulture brains

Mike Richards

It's tempting to laugh

But then you realise a lottery-winning spliff made from the finest dried vulture brains is probably about as sensible as using homeopathy - which is available through the NHS.

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Hackers break Amazon's Kindle DRM

Mike Richards

Thanks for confirming this

I've spoken to a number of authors who have released eBook versions of their novels and each and every one of them is fed up with DRM being imposed by publishers. In a couple of cases they have said they will not be licensing stuff for eBooks in future because the DRM is so restrictive they can't market their material in certain countries.

I guess the publishers and the movie industry are in the unenviable position of being more backward than the music business.

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UK ID card project descends into muddle

Mike Richards

Lilac?

What if I'm allergic to lilac?

After all, this is meant to be a government all about choice - why can't I choose the colour of my ID card? Why can't I have one with David Blunkett's eminently slappable face on it?

But most of all, why can't I have one with clear instructions for Home Office employees who might be thinking this is a good opportunity to deprive us of our rights. Something classy like:

'Why don't you just take this card, sharpen the edges, shove it up your capacious arse and have a good rummage?'

Oh yeah. Merry Christmas.

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Virgin coughs up digital tech support for clueless users

Mike Richards

Pot calling kettle black surely

'The service is pitched at clueless Blighty folk, who don't know the first thing about how to get their "digital stuff to work."'

You mean clueless Blighty folk like Virgin Media?

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LHC Xmas shutdown today - massive boffin roister planned

Mike Richards

Good news

This shut-down will give Lewis a chance to recuperate with a mince pie and an even larger thesaurus.

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ID card minister forgets ID card

Mike Richards

Jesus wept

This daft bint has to do ONE thing to retain her ministerial salary.

Just ONE THING - she has to remember to pick up her ID card so she can do her job promoting ID cards.

And she couldn't even do that.

There are things without spines lurking in mangrove swamps blowing bubbles that would make better government officials than Meg Hillier.

(And can we have a slightly larger FAIL icon - the current one seems somewhat inadequate for this case)

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