* Posts by Mike Richards

3608 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

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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Ladies put off tech careers by sci-fi posters, Coke cans

Mike Richards

Serves them right

'2) There is a need to specify the landmass in which "Washington" resides'

For all the times they stick a picture of the Eiffel Tower on the screen with the caption

Paris, France.

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Kindle app comes to UK iPhones

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'I was under the impression that Stanza was a good sort of inbetweeny app that converted ebooks from one format to another.'

Stanza's a (very good) eBook reader, nothing else. Are you perhaps thinking of Calibre, which is, a fabulous utility for getting (most) eBooks to talk nicely with (most) eBook readers.

http://calibre-ebook.com/

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3 billion have suffered Slade's 'Merry Xmas Everybody'

Mike Richards

@ Hugh G. Rection

'As another paid-up member of the old farts club, I can assure you that in 1973 we needed all the halp we could get to cheer ourselves up, and this song went some way towards doing that'

So what you're basically saying is that Noddy's song is perfect for today's Brownian economy.

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El Reg uncovers Tiger Woods tech angle

Mike Richards

That bloody Accenture advert

Are those sheep meant to be Irish or Scottish?

Oh and can I just have a niggle at Accenture for putting a bloody > over the letter 't'. I can? Thanks.

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RAF's new military airlifter finally lumbers into the air

Mike Richards

Hold on let me get this right

We already own C17's. We have pilots and navigators trained to fly them? Engineers trained to maintain them? Presumably we've also got the complementary Lockheed care plan and a warehouse full of spares to keep them in the air. The plane is available like now...

...and we've decided to go and buy something else?

The MoD simply isn't fit for purpose. We should scrap it, flog off the buildings and sell the defence contract to Tiscali who after all, have a record of ruining life for millions of people that the British military can only aspire to.

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Last splash for Flash support on elderly PowerPC G3s

Mike Richards

'performance enhancements'

Is it too much to hope that Adobe will release a version of Flash that won't max out the processor on a Mac Pro?

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McKinnon lawyers file last gasp extradition appeal

Mike Richards

Extradition and death penalty

'Really? Does that mean that the USA judiciary is not independent of the government then? How can a government department otherwise guarantee that a felon won't fry?'

Errr because not all crimes in America attract the death penalty?

In cases where there is a possibility of receiving the death penalty, the Department of Justice will try to get the prosecutor to agree to not seeking a capital punishment in order that extradition can proceed. But the DoJ cannot dictate to the courts what sentence should be imposed.

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Police snapper silliness reaches new heights

Mike Richards

Will go on...

...until at least one police officer is sacked from the force for their actions.

Whereupon the police unions will start talking about a witch hunt.

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Pig plague alert: Our safe sex guide

Mike Richards

Goes beyond awesomeness into a whole new realm of jaw-dropping brilliance

One for the Reg's tame lawyer. Have we broken the new obscenity laws by even looking at this vital health information? If so, I can't wait for the trial.

(And is that Lewis inside the scuba outfit - the face mask was so steamed up it was hard to tell)

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National space agency for Blighty, says Drayson

Mike Richards

British Imperial Spaceways

Might as well follow a long and honourable tradition and paint the whole of the solar system pink.

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Darling upsets almost everyone

Mike Richards

@ seanj

'Populist measures take effect before the election, like the "bingo tax cut" '

Oh he's cleverer than that - he whacked up the tax on bingo AT THE LAST BUDGET. The 'cut' actually still means bingo players will be paying more money than a year ago, but the tabloids will give him a break because it looks like Darling cares about their readers.

As for public sector workers - didn't you get the memo? The public sector is the great class enemy. In the last couple of weeks politicians have come to believe that the bankers who got us into this mess are a vital part of the Great British economy and we mustn't be too beastly to them otherwise they might leave the country. Teachers on the other hand...

So if you're in the public sector you're going to get hammered by whoever's in charge because even if you're a cardiac ward nurse you're politically indistinguishable from an Islington Council seasonal diversity empowerment officer. The Tories know you won't vote for them and Labour know that too.

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Apple's alleged Kindle-crusher set for spring release?

Mike Richards

@ Antidisestablishmentarianist

You're thinking of Pixel Qi who have demoed a screen but haven't begun production just yet.

And yes, it is an awesome idea.

http://pixelqi.com/products

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Mike Richards

eBook pricing

'S&S and Hachette, to be sure, are motivated primarily by the fact that ebooks command much lower prices than hardcovers'

Guess they haven't looked in the Waterstone's store where eBooks are regularly more than the same hardback from either Waterstones or Amazon. The companies claim this is because eBooks attract VAT, but I reckon it's called 'blatant profiteering' in anyone else's language.

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Darling promises IT cuts, years of pain

Mike Richards

@MinionZero

'I want to know where they are (or we are) going to find £178B!!? '

Well, I really shouldn't tell you, but I've caught a glimpse of the next Labour manifesto; and; (promise you won't tell anyone now), New Labour are essentially going to revolutionise economics. The Treasury has recently had a lovely email from a Mrs. Abacha of Acacia Avenue, Lagos: 'I know this might come to you as a surprise, but please do accept it in good faith and treat as a matter of urgency with utmost confidentiality. I have a business proposition for you involving the sum of $ONE TRILLIONS DOLLARS!!!!'

If Labour win the next election, the very lovely Hazel Blears will be on the next plane to West Africa carrying a briefcase containing the Crown Jewels which will be needed for security or something.

There's also something about us each taking in one another's washing as a top-down-grass-roots-generational-wealth-generation-incentivisation-opportunity-initiative type thingy.

Britain - where the economy's like Iceland's - only without the fish.

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Mike Richards

UK vs. France and Germany

The UK's economy is about the same size as France's; a little smaller than Germany's. It's hard to directly compare taxes but levels across business and personal taxation are pretty much in the same ballpark.

If you go to either of those countries, public services work, the education systems aren't in permanent crisis, the roads aren't crumbling and you can pretty much guarantee your train or bus will turn up.

So what are they doing right that Britain isn't?

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New DNA rules may still breach human rights

Mike Richards

@ Sir Runcible Spoon

'What's beyond despair?'

Margate.

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Israel tests biometric database

Mike Richards

Reduce public borrowing

We can flog the Israelis a shiny new biometric panorwellcon since it looks like the next government won't be needing it.

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'We must all stop washing to save the planet'

Mike Richards

ARGH!

' is it really a surprise that we're heading towards another one (which is due anyway).'

No it bloody isn't!

Can you please find a geological textbook that says the next glacial maximum is due? The best claim you can make is that in the early 1970s a *minority* of scientists studying the climate proposed that the Earth was likely to head into a period of general cooling which might end up as an ice age (we'll skip the technicality that we're actually still in an ice age).

The work began with Stephen Schneider at NASA Goddard Flight Center and got into the New York Times. Around the same time, a report by the National Academy of Sciences also suggested a 'finite possibility' that the Earth's climate would begin cooling within the next century. The stories got traction for a number of reasons:

Research had been going on into Milankovich Cycles - regular changes in the tilt of the Earth's axis on a geological timescale which appear to be *partially* related to glaciations. Running the Cycles forward showed that the Earth was heading towards a part of the cycle which would produce greater amounts of cooling.

The then state of knowledge of glaciations was very poor - we had not done any deep drilling of ice cores. There was a general assumption that the warmer interglacials, such as the current Holocene, lasted no more than 10,000 years; and that the previous interglacial had lasted less than 5,000 years. The Holocene interglacial had been going for about 10,000 years, so it was reasonable to assume the ice sheets were most likely to begin expanding again in the geological near future.

There had been a very mild cooling from the 1940s onward which was believed to have been driven by rapid industrialisation producing smoke, soot and dust and by the cultivation of previously virgin land producing even more dust.

Schneider performed a simulation contrasting the cooling effect of these aerosols against the known warming effect of increased CO2 from fossil fuels. He made a prediction of the future climate if the known trends continued into the future. His 1971 paper suggested the cooling effect was dominant and would tip the Earth towards another glacial.

Schneider quickly realised his numbers for future cooling were not realistic (he had used local concentrations of pollutants on a global scale - there were too many of them), when he dialled the aerosols back to more realistic values in his second simulation, it was clear that the warming effect was dominant.

Since then we've learned a lot. Milankovich Cycles are a good, but not total explanation of glaciations. We now know interglacials last up to about 100,000 years and we're pretty sure (again from the ice evidence) that much of the cooling in the middle part of the 20th Century was caused by an upspike in volcanic activity.

Schneider's paper came in a poorly established field without a large amount of supporting work. It was a good piece of work and he deserves credit for re-running his work with better figures. But he was not the only person researching future climates. Between 1965 and 1979, 44 scientific papers were published that predicted a warming world - and some were pointing to CO2 as the driving force, 20 thought there would be no overall change; just 7 predicted cooling.

There's a review of those papers here:

http://ams.confex.com/ams/pdfpapers/131047.pdf

Can we now bury that myth alongside the person who suggested I should take up drinking instant coffee?

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Swindon twins with Walt Disney World

Mike Richards

Have a magical day

Swindon and Walt Disney World have a lot in common - I wouldn't want to be seen dead in either of them.

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Walking With Dinosaurs star goes walkabout

Mike Richards

Not Liverpool then

Where Diplodocus would have been left burned out propped up on bricks.

I really, really hope there will be some CCTV of a dinosaur sneaking out under the cover of darkness.

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No more UFO reports please, says MoD

Mike Richards

Easy...

...Twitter it and the Guardian will run a full page probing feature with commentary by Stephen Fry.

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