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* Posts by Mike Richards

3578 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

The best mad scientist memoir of the year

Mike Richards
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@ 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
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@ 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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@ 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
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'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
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'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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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'liquid hot molten magma'

Three of those words are redundant.

The word for subterranean molten rock is - magma.

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Mike Richards
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@ 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
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@ 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
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@ 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
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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
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@ 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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@ 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
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@ 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
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@ 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
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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
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@ 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
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@ 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
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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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Musos demand Guantanamo Bay playlist

Mike Richards
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Bigger question

Did Camp X-ray have a performance license to play the music? If not, how much will they be expected to cough up?

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WTF is this country called America?

Mike Richards
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@ Ian Braithwaite

'Just for completeness - to those of you listing the constituent parts of North America - you might want to add Greenland. Even though it's a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, it's also a sizeable part of North America..'

And the left-hand quarter of Iceland; which (depending on your definition) is also (or indeed is not) part of Scandinavia.

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Historian slams 'absolutely crazy' UK time zone

Mike Richards
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@Anonymous Coward

'6) Iceland is also a country and its natural timezone is GMT, which it uses.'

Very sensibly they also just accept they're on the edge of the Arctic Circle and stick with GMT all year round. Yes the winters suck, but there's a: the incredible summers to look forward to, and b: the brennevin.

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Man dissects Apple's Magic Mouse

Mike Richards
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@ david 63

'you'll be telling my very expensive magic wand doesn't have any magic in it next.'

You know it doesn't; the judge was very clear about the powers of your magic wand at the sentencing.

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GCHQ outsources net snooping... to EDS

Mike Richards
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@ theloon

'As the ISP's have basically refused to cooperate with this, due factors like, the massive cost of DPI,'

Oh please, that's easy for New Labour to find their way round. They'll simply impose a £1 per month per account 'Internet Security Tax' on the country; then make sure it gets railroaded through the Commons thanks to the invertebrate nature of their backbenchers and a suitably Mandelsonian smear campaign against its opponents.

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Ares I-X trundles to launchpad

Mike Richards
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@ rpjs

'that some folks at NASA think will shake its payload to pieces, or is that Ares V?'

It's this one that could pogo like buggery.

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Blogging vicar casts Tina Turner into hell

Mike Richards
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Viking funeral

Just put me on a boat piled high with all my consumer electronics and set light to it.

After I'm dead (obviously).

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Interead Cool-er

Mike Richards
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@ uhuznaa

'Why always those displays?'

Simple - they look astonishing out of doors. Whereas LCD screens get washed out unless you crank the backlight to 11, or they just become reflective messes, the eInk displays get crisper and brighter the more light there is.

There's also no flicker which makes prolonged reading much more pleasant than on an LCD.

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Tories may cut Met Office funding

Mike Richards
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To Dr. Fox

"There's a very strong case to look at the assets of the MoD and say do these deliver anything for the front line?"

A quick flip through some history books (you can claim them on expenses) suggests that knowing the weather forecast does have some influence on military campaigns.

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ESA proposes ion drive Sun-dodge Mars commsat ploy

Mike Richards
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Radio times to Mars

"...the time taken for messages to travel back and forth - already some hours when Earth and Mars are far apart."

No they don't - trip times to Mars vary from just over 3 minutes when Earth is closest to the planet to about 22 minutes when they're on opposite sides of the Sun. Double that for a round trip. If you're being put on hold for 'some hours' when calling Mars you should consider changing your operator.

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Aussie Sex Party in evangelist head-to-head

Mike Richards
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'21-day period of fasting and abstinence'

Couldn't they have made that a 210-day period of fasting and abstinence and sort of solved the problem themselves?

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El Reg launches 'Skinny Fit' fashion range

Mike Richards
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Very convincing

Although probably a bit too substantial for Ralph Lauren.

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Robot nuclear windjammer to sail patio-gas oceans of Titan

Mike Richards
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@ Led boot

'If you're going to the trouble of sending a nuke powered ship all the way out there, why not attach some sort of satelite you can fling into orbit so we can get data back all the time?'

You'd have to slow it from interplanetary velocity which would either need an enormous amount of fuel, or you could try aerobraking in Titan's atmosphere which would be nerve wracking.

As for probes doing more than just sitting there; in 1986 the Soviets put balloons on Vegas 1 and 2 to take readings of the Venusian atmosphere. They confirmed it was pretty bloody nasty.

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Airport rethinks strip-scanner for kids

Mike Richards
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"Our only interest is in making sure all passengers get on the plane safely."

Bollocks - your only interest is forcing people to arrive at the terminal three hours before departure and delaying gate announcements to the last minute to maximise the time passengers spend in the shops* and restaurants.

* Anyone else noticed that airport branches of Dixons are even crappier than the ones in the High Street?

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Subaru set to show stylish hybrid

Mike Richards
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Gull wing doors

Maybe useless, but they were on the Mercedes 300 - so they aren't completely evil.

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Office 2004 for Mac granted extended run to appease VBA fans

Mike Richards
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Why people stuck with 2004

Was because the latest version of Office for the Mac ignored ALL of the goodness that went into Office 2007 for Windows in favour of releasing an even more lethargic bugtastic product.

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Home Office staff offered early bird ID cards

Mike Richards
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@ Anonymous Coward

'It's just like when John Selwyn Gummer wanted to convince people that beef infected with BSE didn't cause the brain disease CJD in people, and so offered the burger.... to his daughter.'

To be fair to John Selwyn Gummer (and when was the last time you read that combination of words?), eating a BSE-laden burger only resulted in a very slight chance of contracting the disease; whereas getting an ID card guarantees your life will be fucked shortly afterwards.

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