* Posts by Mike Richards

3595 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Spain warned on filesharing cut-offs

Mike Richards

Thank god for the EU

The supposedly communistic undemocratic demagogue seems to be the only thing looking out for the individual these days.

Let's hope a serious slapping is heading towards the UK.

Preferably complete with a real slapping for Mandelson.

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Weather balloons no longer a crazy idea for rural coverage

Mike Richards

@ Steve Coffman

Helium's not the only lifting gas. Some weather balloons use ammonia although it has a lower lift. And there's no reason why hydrogen couldn't be used in this case provided the operators only recruited non-smokers.

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eBooks: What to read on which reader

Mike Richards

Crappy customer service from Waterstones - beware!

Beware of duff eBooks even from legitimate sellers. Waterstones offer China Mieville's 'Perdido Street Station' for the Sony eBook Reader, but the book has been completely ruined by the morons who did the conversion - there are whole sections of the book in the wrong order, typos and weird characters aplenty and whole blocks of text have been repeated throughout the document.

I alerted Waterstones to the fact they're selling a version of the book the author couldn't possibly want people to see. What does Britain's leading bookseller have to say on the issue? Well let's have a look at their mission statement:

'Waterstone's mission is to be the leading Bookseller on the High Street and online providing customers the widest choice, great value and expert advice from a team passionate about Bookselling. Waterstone's aims to interest and excite its customers and continually inspire people to read and engage in books.'

So you'd expect an 'oh dear, we're really sorry, here's a corrected version of the book. Thanks for letting us know.' (You know, like they would if you found a paper book which had been incorrectly printed or was barely legible). Well to spare you the illiterate emails I got from customer services; they couldn't care less. They've got your money and they're not going to give it back without a fight.

Don't expect to get a quick refund on duff eBook purchases. Retailers assume you're a pirate from the start and you have to fight to get your money back, Amazon even considers eBook purchases to be final.

Instead, if an eBook is shite or if you can't get one thanks to DRM or stupid policies about only selling books in certain countries; write to the author and let them know their work is being ruined by their publishers or that their income is suffering.

You might not get a refund, but you'd be surprised how sympathetic writers are about customers getting what they want and what they paid for. You might even make a new friend.

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US forces developing 'miniature weapons' for killer robots

Mike Richards

@ The First Dave

'How much do you think DARPA are expecting for a lousy half-mil? That's barely enough to buy a full-sized hellfire at retail prices.'

As that great sage Opus the Penguin once said 'Physicists need Porsches too!'

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LHC dimensional apocalypse from midnight: Your thoughts

Mike Richards

If something does come through...

...it'd better have tentacles or I want my money back.

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ISPA slams Mandy's copyright land grab

Mike Richards

'What action the Tories would take on the issue is not clear.'

No, that's easy.

'Tell us what to do Rupert.'

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Mandelson to get Nominet reform powers

Mike Richards

because Mandelson doesn't really have enough powers does he?

And why does word that the powers are unlikely to be used *NOT* set my mind at rest? I seem to have heard similar comforting words before - usually just before those powers are used.

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Anti-filesharing laws are go

Mike Richards

@ Bassey

'it still has to be singed off by the Monarch before it becomes enshrined in law. No Monarch would ever sign such a law and would immediately disband any government that attempted to pass such a law.'

I think you're being overly optimistic there. The sovereign has the option to withhold Royal Assent, but it is generally acknowledged this will never happen to a government-sponsored bill. The last time withholding assent was even considered was when George V wanted to veto Home Rule for Ireland. He took legal advice and was told he should not do so unless the security of the nation was threatened by the passage of the bill. That advice holds.

The sovereign appoints Lords Commissioners who state Royal Assent on their behalf. Most of the time they don't even get involved with the process, instead; convention states the sovereign takes advice of their ministers - if they say grant assent, it is granted.

All of which is good reason to ask the Americans if we can have a use of their Constitution. There are far fewer conventions and assumptions and a damn sight more transparency.

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MS store staff in spontaneous electric boogie

Mike Richards
FAIL

I made it all the way through!!!

So okay the only way to do it was to switch off the sound and minimise the window.

But I *knew* it was still there wibbling and wobbling away in brightly-coloured SoCal Ballmervision - and that must count for something.

After that I think I need some quality fare - something like the complete Steven Seagal collection, played backwards with a Swedish dub.

(BTW. I think we need a special, extra-large FAIL icon for occasions like this)

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Mike Richards

Sorry forgot

There's only way to cope in places like this. When someone wishes you to 'Have a Magical Day!'* or breaks into a perfectly choreographed 'spontaneous' dance, the socially correct response is:

'Fuckity Bye!'

* I so wish I was making that up.

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New Zealand rated least corrupt country

Mike Richards

Iceland...

Just a point of order.

The average Icelander is pretty much as honest as they come, hence the country's high rating. But the dozen or so of them that ran the banks and managed to bankrupt one of the World's richest countries must be in a league of their own.

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Hacktivists ransack Hitler defender's email

Mike Richards

Yeah it's wrong to hack someone's account...

...but part of me can't help but think that anything that makes the life of this grubby little fascist (he described himself as such) a bit harder can't be bad. Irving has made a nice little income from Holocaust denial.

As for free speech, that really is a tough one. After all Irving has variously claimed that Hitler knew nothing about the Holocaust, that the Allies faked the story, that there were no gas chambers, that there was no organised extermination and so on and on... His stories have been disproven in academic journals, books, papers, even in court and yet he still rattles round the far-right circuit spilling his venom. I can't begin to imagine how much distress he causes to survivors and relatives of the dead. But yes, he should be allowed to speak - and as soon as he steps over the line, then he should be dragged in front of a court and bankrupted all over again.

One thing that's easy to do would be to stop calling him a historian. Court judgements say he has faked and exaggerated his evidence. So perhaps the next time he turns up in print or on television they can just call him 'David Irving: Nazi fantasist'?

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V-22 Osprey, stealth jumpjet 'need refrigerated landing pads'

Mike Richards

Using NASA tech

Just two points.

The tiles on the Shuttle might well be heat-proof but they're insanely fragile. You can scratch one with your fingernail, hell they're even dented by raindrops. So there's no way they'd survive having a plane drop on them.

To answer Pyros point above. No, there's small flexible felt pads under each tile, but they're there to allow the aluminium skin of the Shuttle to expand and contract without popping the tiles.

And Nomen Publicus's question about the water dumped on the Shuttle pad during launch. That's not there for heat protection, it's a sound deadening system preventing shockwaves bouncing off the concrete apron and tearing the rocket apart.

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Mike Richards

Silly question...

...but wouldn't the Brits have fixed this problem long ago when they had to deal with Harriers performing vertical landings on their pocket-sized carriers?

Either that or the US Navy can fit a giant oven glove* on the landing pad.

*They can put a camouflage pattern on it if the usual daisies aren't sufficiently Oooh-rah for the Marines.

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Latest Navy carrier madness: 'Sell 'em to India'

Mike Richards

Can someone come and invade us?

Because I don't think we're making it as an independent grown-up country.

So do we have any takers?

Large(ish) archipelago (GSOH) conveniently located off of the Western Coast of Europe would like to meet professional empire. Somewhat neglected for the last century but would make an excellent second territory. This competitively-priced country comes complete with fully-fitted drizzle, threadbare transport network and a decorative German monarchy. The landmass* is available to the highest bidder in possession of a half-baked system of government.

*offer does not include the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland negotiable.

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Mancunians finally get to open bank accounts, go to Europe

Mike Richards

2000 lucky Mancunians

This is BRILLIANT. If you're a shyster selling duff tech to an illiterate government.

Come the next New Labour government they'll be able to spin that there's been a public trial in one of Britain's largest cities and they've only had 2000 complaints!

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Twitter preps paid plans for 'business' Web2.0rhea

Mike Richards

"to the extend that Tweeting is an acceptable verb"

Unless you're referring to a pretty little bird, 'tweeting' is NEVER an acceptable verb.

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The best mad scientist memoir of the year

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Using nuclear weapons to dig a newer, wider, better Panama canal.

'Who'd ah thunk it?'

The answer to these sorts of question is always Edward Teller; a man always one secret volcano lair away from certifiable Bond villain.

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Apple wins attack of the clones

Mike Richards

@ Ivan Headache

If you put a new drive in a Mac and insert an update disk you are then prompted to install the OS disk which came with the machine in the first place.

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Channel 4 to become Channel 3D tonight

Mike Richards

Channel 4 in 3D

'Location, Location, Location' normally only makes me queasy, now I can be guaranteed to throw up when the posh bint and the bloke who can't pronounce his 'r's show Tarquin, Jocasta and darling Bubblejet around their fifth home - in 3D!

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Olympus PEN E-P1 Micro Four-Thirds camera

Mike Richards

Six hundred quid???

Bloody hell you can buy top quality dSLRs for that much.

Try as I might, I really can't see the point of the micro four-thirds if the prices are going to be higher than better featured dSLRs. You don't save that much space in the camera bag and if that's your most pressing concern the Lumix range from Panasonic would be a better bet.

It's a bold move, but without heavy discounting I think micro four-thirds is doomed to go into the 'interesting but no way' bin alongside the Foveon sensor.

I'll stick with my Alpha 700 and Ixus combination thanks.

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Mantis Reaper-clone drone flies

Mike Richards

Ooopsie

'For the British the smart thing to do would be to produce their own domestic drone, even if it is more expensive than the US counterpart.'

You haven't been round here long have you? The track record of Britain's defence industry to produced sub-standard gold-plated garbage is a regular feature of Lewis' articles. They'd be really enjoyable if it weren't for the fact they cost us so much money.

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Border guards get first dozen ID card readers

Mike Richards

Only 2000 in Greater Manchester?

That can't even cover the number of Labour Party apparachiks running Manchester Council.

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Atlantis crew gears up for Monday launch

Mike Richards

Sartorial point

They really should get better outfits - they look like someone who might come round to fix your boiler.

Something in silver methinks and catsuits for any ladies who might be about to blasted into orbit (UFO purple wigs optional).

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Michael Jackson planned 'robot duplicate' of himself

Mike Richards

@ tiggertaebo

'Does anyone else expect a conspiracy theory to start now implying that he's not dead and they buried a robotic duplicate?'

I hadn't, but I think this is the perfect opportunity to start one.

And it's also a good time for him to start appearing in the Reg's unrivalled Playmobil CCTV footage - possibly replacing Optimus Prime during Transformers religious holidays.

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Revealed: The amazing premise behind Ridley Scott's Monopoly

Mike Richards

'I created a comedic, lovable loser...'

Oh fuck, it's another Adam Sandler movie.

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Play.com leaves Modern Warfare 2 buyers empty handed

Mike Richards

'Guaranteed'

How can a company guarantee delivery on the day of release when it admits that it has no control over the delivery process?

Sounds like a dodgy advertising claim to me.

It's been a long time since the likes of Blackstar (remember them before they morphed into the entirely shite SendIt?) used to post stuff a couple of days ahead of release and it wasn't uncommon to get titles BEFORE release day.

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Wikipedia sued for publishing convicted murderer's name

Mike Richards

Beautiful phrasing guys

'The dispute is the latest example of a party reaching halfway across the globe in an attempt to deprive the world of content that may or may not violate the laws of a single jurisdiction. If such actions succeed, they will largely gut free speech rights such as those guaranteed by the First Amendment, '

The irony of that section just keeps on giving...

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UK.gov denies innocent will be hit by filesharing regime

Mike Richards

Sion Simon is a minister?

Oh FFS - how thin is the bottom of the barrel after they've scraped this far?

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Regulator warns on school CCTV schemes

Mike Richards

Local MP's view would be interesting

I'd love to know what the local MP, the ever delightful Hazel Blears, has to say about this. After all it was on her watch that a lot of the moronic 'but who'll think of the children?' legislation was passed.

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BAE mounts the Last Charge of the Light Cavalry

Mike Richards

What's the betting

That as soon as BAe get hold of these reliable Swedish tankettes and change them to meet the MoD's spec they'll turn out to be ludicrously expensive and completely unreliable?

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Peugeot's bulbous BB1 e-car bound for Blighty

Mike Richards

Oh that's nasty

Had it just been punctured at the front and the photo was taken before it completely deflated?

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Can Darwin help us find little green men?

Mike Richards

May I just say...

...that's an magnificently awesome first paragraph - the sort of stuff Carl Sagan would have come up with if he had been in the habit of mainlining scratch-and-sniff panels.

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Volcanic African 'unzipping' could see continent divided

Mike Richards

'liquid hot molten magma'

Three of those words are redundant.

The word for subterranean molten rock is - magma.

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Mike Richards

@ John Hawkins

'The Red Sea is a branch that has managed to make the split, but after 60-odd million years the East African branch is still mostly a lot of hot air.'

If you look at the UK you'll find deep rifts that never really got going. The North Sea is one, the Minch off of Western Scotland is another. But one of the biggest is right under Brum. If you find a geological map of the UK, you'll see a long North-South finger of Permo-Trias rock running through the Midlands towards Bristol. This is the Worcester Graben, a colossal rift valley that began opening up in the early Mesozoic which has been filled in with desert deposits.

Had history been different, the Worcester Graben would have opened up into the Atlantic and Wales would now be part of America. In the end, the Atlantic decided to form West of Ireland resulting in the huge volcanic deposits found right across Northern Ireland, the West of Scotland and Greenland. Oh and the whole of Iceland.

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Apple MacBook Late 2009

Mike Richards

@ Piro

US prices won't include sales tax which is levied at a state level. Additionally, European warranty periods are longer than in the US, so you end up paying for that as well.

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Ares 1-X booster rocket dented in test flight

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'This is the same SRB design that has been used over 100 times launching the Space Shuttle. They have been parachuting them into the sea and reusing them for decades now. Highly unlikely that that aspect of the test went amiss.'

It's a new parachute system to accommodate the greater weight of the fifth segment.

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Nikon D3000 digital SLR

Mike Richards

Great camera - but...

...once again, why are dSLRs getting so small?

I don't have huge hands and I find the D3000 (and the comparably marketed Canons) just too small to hold comfortably; and they're horrible to balance especially when you stick a larger metal-bodied lens on the front.

I just stumped up for a new dSLR and after trying everything up to about £1200 found myself (to my surprise) plumping for the Sony Alpha 700 - it's technically awesome, but it also comes with a chunky, reassuringly-heavy metal body.

I know, I know - a *Sony*; socially it's the scrofula of the camera world. So, to overcome my stigma, if anyone wants me to (ahem) 'review' the Nikon D3x, I'm sure I can find the time. Just don't skimp on the lens eh?

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Brit space agency to probe 'crackpot' antigravity device

Mike Richards

@ Andy Miller

'What's wrong with Buttered Cat Arrays?'

Still on the drawing board until someone comes up with a way of successfully buttering a cat that doesn't result in the flesh being flayed from their hands.

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Government to protect children from zombie paedophiles

Mike Richards

Confused...

"an individual can remove themselves from the register at their own request."

If I'm reading this correctly a zombie paedophile can remove themselves from the register and threaten our children.

I'm shocked, shocked I tell you.

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Russia planning nuclear-powered manned spaceship

Mike Richards

Only one way forward...

...the entirely bat-shit crazy, 'go to Saturn in the Albert Hall on the back of an H-bomb' - Project Orion. Brought to you in 1950s tail-fin and bobby socks glory by the company with the coolest name in the history of bonkerdom: General Atomics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orion_(nuclear_propulsion)

It's what Gerry Anderson would want us to do.

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Mandy declares 'three strikes' war on illegal file sharers

Mike Richards

This could be good - for lawyers

The media business says someone in your household was downloading files with the result that the whole household gets disconnected without any legal process and hey presto your new right (proposed by the self-same Labour government) to the Internet is removed.

How long until we can bury this lot in a suitable pit of quicklime?

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Mike Richards

From Mandy's own lips

"The best long-term solution has to be a market in which those who love music and film, for example, can find a deal that makes acting unlawfully an unnecessary risk,"

So he's prepared to call for the removal of all DRM such as region coding on movies?

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Ares I-X blasts off at second attempt

Mike Richards

@ Robert Hill

'So...years late, we get a painted-over Shuttle solid fuel booster propelling a dummy second stage and avionics package into sub-orbital space and splashing down.'

Actually we got it just four years after the Ares project was first approved. N

ASA have had plenty of screw-ups since the Shuttle was finalised, a long period of indecision, but they've done well to get Ares up and flying this quickly. NASA needs a period of certainty where it can plan; if the Augustine panel's recommendations are followed it will be even longer before we can start doing new cool stuff.

Ares 1-X was more than just an SRB with a new coat of paint; it was a new vehicle with completely different flight characteristics to previous rockets that NASA has built. They were testing rockets the old-fashioned way - one small step at a time. The alternative, 'all-up' approach used on the Shuttle and Apollo Saturn V is incredibly risky and appallingly expensive - NASA doesn't want another explosion to torpedo public support for space flight and its budget simply doesn't allow them to keep rolling rockets to the pad and firing them in the hope they've debugged everything.

The largest effort to Ares 1-X wasn't actually the rocket, its been re-tasking Kennedy to handle the new rockets - everything from redesigning the pad and the VAB to training the staff who will assemble and fire the rockets.

It's a real shame we now have to wait quite so long for Ares 1-Y to fly. A bit of Kennedy-era urgency from the top and Johnson-era largesse would be nice.

My only issue with today's flight was that it didn't take place when I was at Kennedy earlier this month :(

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ID Card scheme banking on 28 million volunteers

Mike Richards

@ Richard Wharram

You don't need a biometric passport to travel to the US.

You DO need a machine readable passport (one with a barcode which are the sort that have been issued in the last ten years or so), and you need to be enrolled in the US biometric farrago at the point of entry. But that's it.

The plans are to gradually replace machine-readable passports with biometric ones - which are those containing an electronic copy of the photograph and a digital signature. AND THAT'S IT.

But then why are you asking. She's a Labour MP, you can tell they're lying when their lips start moving. If they aren't speaking you can be pretty sure they're about to lie to you.

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Ares I-X stuck on the pad

Mike Richards

@ Jeff 10

'Wasn't this called Apollo about 40 years ago?'

No, Apollo was a get-to-the-Moon-first-no-matter-what project. There was no coherent idea of what to do after the lunar landing, especially after NASA started getting its budget cut by Congress. The original plan had been to proceed with a space station and the Space Shuttle before moving on to Mars by the mid 1908s.

However, as we all know, the only bit that survived was the Space Shuttle, but that really only in name only after the US Air Force started laying down requirements which effectively crippled the project. By the time the Shuttle project was approved there wasn't enough money to build a station for it to visit; leaving NASA trapped in low orbit for a long time.

Constellation is better thought through than that, the rockets are designed for more than one purpose and can support a variety of missions. It's just a shame that it has taken 40 years for NASA to effectively copy the Soviet missions planned for the N1 rocket. Let's just hope Ares 1 and 5 are more reliable than the N1.

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Sonic 'hyperlens' offers hi-res ultrasound scans, naval sonar

Mike Richards

Made of brass...

Awesome. Not nearly enough scientific equipment has been made of brass since the 19th Century.

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Ares I-X 'in great shape' to fly

Mike Richards

@ Annihilator

'What's the 4 hour window'

They have to close a huge area of ocean so that shipping doesn't have spent rocket stages falling on it. Four hours is the maximum the Air Force who run the Canaveral range is prepared to allocate.

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Ares I: What's the point?

Mike Richards

@ beast666

'It's less capable than the shuttle, and it has serious pogo problems! Upgrade the shuttle ffs, or am I wrong about this???'

The problem with the Shuttle was it did lots of things not very well. Ares I does at least have a clear mission without all the compromises that so ruined the Shuttle by the time it flew. The Shuttle could have its life extended, but the people who designed it and built it are all now long retired or dead, the production lines and jigs are all long scrapped. There's no going back. And the Soviet Shuttle has long since been broken up (admittedly after a building fell on it).

As for pogo, yes it *could* be a problem. Firstly, to correct the article, the thing wouldn't shake itself to pieces on the pad, pogo is a flight problem.

Secondly, pogo is fixable. Apollo 6, the second flight of the Saturn V nearly ended in disaster because of pogo. There was a violent first stage pogo well beyond what had been seen in Apollo 4. The CSM/LM actually began to disintegrate with quite large chunks coming free. Had the mission been manned the automatic abort would have been invoked. NASA got to work detuning the first stage and had that resolved by the time of Apollo 10's flight.

Second stage pogo nearly destroyed Apollo 13 before its SM oxygen tank had a chance to kill the crew. There was an undiagnosed turbo-pump resonance that caused massive shaking in the central J2 engine. Fortunately the engine's computer noticed an ongoing deviation from preset parameters and initiated a shutdown before pogo tore the engine from its mounts.

Saturn V was never thoroughly de-pogoed, and yet its probably the most successful rocket NASA ever built.

And I never got the chance to see one fired.

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Anti-filesharing laws revive crypto fears for spooks

Mike Richards

This is awesome

The War Against Terror versus the record labels with shiny little Ben Bradshaw caught in the middle.

Has anyone got the popcorn in?

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