* Posts by Mike Richards

3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

New NASA rocket fuel 'could be made on Moon, Mars'

Mike Richards

Water vapour

Rocket exhaust also contains significant quantities of nitrogen oxides formed in the high temperature hydrogen-oxygen flame. These are environmental and health nasties and are also a drawback to burning hydrogen in conventional engines.

And has anyone checked the health implications of nano-scale aluminium particles yet?

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Bubbly-belly-bugging boffins battle bovine belch peril

Mike Richards

'automatic on-cow flare stack'

Now that I want to see...

Awesome sub as always Lewis.

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Sony reveals slim PS3, drops price

Mike Richards

@ asdf

Not to mention that the 360 versions of most games are STILL coming with better texturing and frame rates. To add insult to injury, publishers are regularly stiffing PS3 users an extra £10 for the privilege.

Got both consoles and after three of them I can definitively say the 360 is a heap 'o shite build-wise; but Microsoft have done their homework and delivered the better console (oooh I'm gonna hate myself for this) experience.

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US military cyber force activated

Mike Richards

@ twelvebore

'Never understood how the US military allocates these numbers, I'm sure it's intended to make it sound like the army/air force/whatever is bigger than it really is, and scare the Russians.'

Actually that's a pretty good question - possibly Lewis (the Reg's defence/defense/alien jellyfish) correspondent can explain how the US Army allocates numbers to regiments. Like how come they've got a 101st before a 67th?

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Soviet military-surplus manned spacecraft to fly again

Mike Richards

Interesting...

How much more the RRV looks like the conical Mercury/Gemini/Apollo than the sort of headlamp-shaped Soyuz capsules. I wonder how their heatshield is attached and if it is ablative (like Soyuz) or refractory (like the Shuttle)?

Of course this also means the Soviets clocked up another first - the first reusable manned craft, ahead of the Shuttle.

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BlackBerry Curve 8520

Mike Richards

@ troldman

'That's been the biggest problems with BlackBerries. Trackballs are for playing Missile Command and nothing else.'

Absolute nonsense.

It's also for playing Centipede.

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Campaign for official Turing apology gathers steam

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Good luck with that, Gordon Brown can't even apologise for his own mistakes!'

Actually New Labour are extremely good at apologising for things where there's no possibility of them being blamed - Blair apologised for the slave trade and the Irish potato famine amongst others.

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Communist car given electric overhaul

Mike Richards

Oh my god

That really does spank me with its ugliness.

It could be the most horrible thing ever - at least until the battery-powered Austin Ellegro (see what I did there?) comes along (very slowly).

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Labour party unveils Tweeter-in-chief

Mike Richards

Quick question

Is this going to be another salaried position?

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Mitsubishi iMiEV five-door e-car

Mike Richards

Charging gauge

'We asked Mitsubishi why the charge gauge can't be set to show the remaining battery capacity in terms of miles available to drive rather than just as a simple 'fuel gauge' and was told that getting such a system to show the remaining range with any degree of accuracy was extremely difficult due to the impact that driving style and terrain can have on effective range.'

They have a point that this could be complex and confusing. Unless you continue using more or less the same power for the rest of your journey, the results could be about as useful as the Windows file copy dialog. 'Distance remaining 7 miles... ...245 yards... ...1 astronomical unit...'

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Labour MP exposes password credentials

Mike Richards

Voting record

This level of incompetence probably explains why she's on record as:

'Voted strongly for introducing ID cards.'

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Collar the lot of us! The biometric delusion

Mike Richards

Why do politicians like biometrics?

Easy - they don't understand it in the slightest and are easily reeled in by lobbyists. When you throw in a Home Office that's been gagging to introduce ID cards since the early 1970s, you have an unequalled opportunity for companies to sell snake oil.

Biometrics is one of those technologies politicians can't help but embrace no matter what - along with 'fast breeder reactor', 'supersonic', and worst of all 'computerised'.

Now if you excuse me, I'm coming up to the ramp for the Concept Boulevard.

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Stargazers spy retrograde planetary bloater

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous John

Most of Jupiter's *atmosphere* is hydrogen and helium, there's presumed to be a much denser core comprising anything between 5 and 15% if Jupiter's total mass (that's 15 to 45 Earth masses) made of elements such as silicon and iron.

If this new planet either doesn't have a rocky core, or has a very small core (like Uranus) it would have a lower density. Saturn, for instance, has a bulk density lower than water; again because it has a relatively small core.

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Half-ton space watermelon hints at habitable Martian past

Mike Richards

@ Steve Swann

'Where's the crater?'

Doesn't need to be one; meteorites don't always arrive near vertically; sometimes they skip across the atmosphere like a stone over a pond, gradually descending at a very low angle and coming to rest at relatively low speed.

Actually, when I first saw the images this meteorite reminded me of the Hoba West meteorite in Namibia, which at 60 tonnes + is the largest single meteorite found on Earth and which is also sans crater.

http://giantcrystals.strahlen.org/africa/hoba.htm

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How to hack a Sony Reader

Mike Richards

Mac compatibility

Sony is promising Mac compatible software by the end of this month to coincide with the launch of their new readers. But as the article says, if you can persuade a tame Windows user to let you register your machine on their PC just the once, you can use the Reader quite happily on a Mac.

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Official: Toshiba to get in on Blu-ray Disc

Mike Richards

@Tony Paulazzo

'Most of my friends with HDTVs are still plugging in via scart rather than the C M Yk(?) cables '

Don't forget, if you want 1080p you need to go to DVI or HDMI rather than component cables. And they really want you to use HDMI because it has lots and lots of DRM to make your life inconvenient.

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El Reg space paper plane christened Vulture 1

Mike Richards

@ Andrew Moore

'A simple latex balloon would do the trick'

And it seems somehow appropriate to use latex around PARIS.

This project makes me proud(ish) to be British once more - what with Top Gear firing a Robin Reliant into the stratosphere and the Reg building a high altitude paper plane it's like the heady days of the Blue Streak and Bryllcreem.

Lester now needs to answer one more crucial question.

Do you have a shed?

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Martha Lane-Fox: No broadband, no citizenship

Mike Richards

The telephone is how old now?

The telephone has been with us for over a century and there is still a significant number of people who don't have one. The same for TV and radio. How can MLF expect the Internet to have a greater penetration than these established technologies in a fraction of the time when it is both more expensive and less immediately useful than telephones, radio and TV?

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Tokyo battles monstrous murder of crows

Mike Richards

Tough birds

These are the ones who think they can make a comfy nest out of wire coathangers. They're pretty much the corvine Chuck Norris.

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Hubble snaps fall-out from Jupiter impact

Mike Richards

"the size of several football fields"

Oh VERY useful. That's bound to be an *American* football field (you know the 'game' where they don't play rugby dressed in full body armour between beer commercials), not a proper British Passchendaele pitch with scrunched up jumpers for goalposts.

Why do Americans insist on using such arbitrary units when there is a rigorously logical unit of measurement that the whole world can agree on?

How many Wales???

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Electropulse weapon fear spreads to UK politicos

Mike Richards

Sounds probable..

'...Harris told how a terrorist group or rogue state detonating a small nuclear bomb in the upper atmosphere could destroy power infrastructure...'

So terrorists not only have to get hold of a nuclear weapon, they also have to get their hands on a miniaturised warhead that can be put in the nosecone of a missile (which they'll also need to acquire), work out how to target the missile, fuel it and prepare it for launch without being seen.

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Beeb and co offload failed Kangaroo platform

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Whereas Murdochvision owns the rights to the content, the distribution mechanism, the conditional access mechanism, the receivers, the installers, etc.'

Would it surprise you that Sky was the complainant when Kangaroo was referred to Ofcom?

No, thought not.

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Canadian uni catches the rebranding sniffles

Mike Richards

That W looks secondhand

I think that's the no-longer needed Woolworth's 'W' with a spray job.

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Swine flu site struggles to stay up

Mike Richards

Symptoms

From what I learned (off Wikipedia obviously), the early symptoms of swine 'flu appear to be identical to those for every pathogen from the common cold to Ebola fever. So if the symptoms go in three days it was a cold, if you're dead in three days it was Ebola; somewhere in between? probably 'flu, or mumps, or gout...

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ISP redesign unites the web in nausea

Mike Richards

Fcuk me that's nasty

Has anyone seen how it actually gets *worse* when you use the [Personalise] drop-down?

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PC repair shop caught trying bank fraud

Mike Richards

I'm shocked...

...shocked I tell you!

Sky made a genuinely useful programme.

Just tell me it was fronted by Ross Kemp.

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Windfarm Britain means (very) expensive electricity

Mike Richards

@ Duncan Jeffery

'EDF reckon they can complete them by 2012. And the only rreason for the urgency was greenie bleating about how unsafe nuclear is - rather contradicted by the French experience and the fact that many other 'sensible' scandinavian countries are going down this route (Finland for instance).'

Setting aside Finland not being in Scandinavia...

...and Finland being the only one of the Nordic countries actually *considering* new nuclear power...

...That's turning out to be something of a fiasco. The Olkiluoto 3 plant should have opened this summer.

You may have noticed from the conspicuous lack of news - it hasn't.

It's now 50% over the stated budget, the French state company Areva is in dispute with the Finns for $1 billion and is not even willing to give a date when the plant will be commissioned. The utility company is even threatening to default on the project. And that's before the Finnish Nuclear Regulatory Authority criticised the number of defects. Everything from the concrete slab its built on upwards has been found to be substandard. The concrete was too porous, cracks were found in the concrete and some of the welders were not properly qualified to be working on the project.

The second reactor of the European Pressurised Reactor design at Flamanville is also well behind schedule and massively over budget - and that's the revised budget which was 25% higher than that quoted for Olkiluoto. The EPR design has still not been certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the US and a couple of American utilities have just dumped the design because it could cost upwards of $8 billion a reactor.

It'd cost less than £2 billion to build a HVDC cable to bring an equivalent amount of reliable, clean hydropower from Iceland to the UK. That'd also solve the bugbear of providing power in the event of calm weather of Western Europe and help keep their economy ticking over nicely.

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Mike Richards

Denmark seems to manage it

And last time I checked, our pragmatic Scandinavian friends were getting 20% of their power from the wind and weren't sitting round in the dark or living in abject poverty. They've invested in a diverse energy supply and interconnectors to even out the troughs and peaks.

Their bacon still sucks however.

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O2 coughs to data failure

Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward

'Ok so my non-tech neighbor is having the exact same problem on BT. All of a sudden last week BTs DHCP started issuing him a 169. IP address, where the normal from them is a 168., thus he cannot get a connection to the web.'

169.x.y.z numbers are allocated to machines when they don't get an IP number from the DHCP server. It's a network issue. Have you tried another machine through the same connection in case there's a network adaptor fault in the machine? If you've tried more than one machine and more than one router it sounds like BT is at fault.

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US Senate halts F-22 Raptor production

Mike Richards

Incredible

The USAF and the plane's builders had managed to put subcontractors for the F22 in 46 of the 50 states - and made sure the relevant politicians knew about it.

And they still killed the programme? Is it too much to hope that the Senate is starting to see through the defence contractors? And let's hope some of that money goes to buy kit for the guys fighting the wars going on right now, not the ones in a Tom Clancy novel.

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Tech can make Britain Great again

Mike Richards

'BrITain'??????

What strategy boutique bright young thing came up with that?

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Watchdog bites Mattesons saucy sausage ad

Mike Richards

Suggestion

I don't think the printed transcripts come across as particularly smutty.

Any chance that Lester and the lovely Moderatrix would be able to re-enact them for us in glorious MP3-ovision?

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Adobe spanked for insecure Reader app

Mike Richards

Adobe Updater

Quick question.

'Is Adobe Updater the worst program ever written?'

None of my (legit) Adobe apps, installed with the default settings can be updated using this PoS.

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Nissan ponders Pré-like cordless charging for e-cars

Mike Richards

Efficiency???

Isn't inductive charging ridiculously inefficient?

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Barnes & Noble chases Amazon with ebook second coming

Mike Richards

@Ebbe Kristensen

'Saw this on NYT and took a look. Seems that (most of?) the interesting titles are not available outside the US.'

This isn't Barnes and Noble's fault - it's the publishers who insist on country by country licensing of their titles.

I've got the Sony Reader here in the UK and I can't get many titles available on their US store, so I contacted some authors asking if they knew their books weren't legally available in the UK. All of them said (wearily) they knew it, they were furious people couldn't get their books legally and a couple asked me to tell the publishers. eBooks should be good for authors, but it looks like they're getting even more screwed than usual.

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German bomber crashes on Moon Google Earth

Mike Richards

Someone has to say it

Playmobil please.

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It shouldn't happen to a vetting database

Mike Richards

Is this a replacement for the ID card database?

The government suddenly goes cool over ID cards, but is extending this database like crazy.

Soon they'll want to put all adults on it - which, when you think about it, makes sense.

Just think EVEN NOW children are in the unsupervised presence of adults when they go to shops, cinemas or riding on a bus. Some of these strangers will try to talk to the children using phrases such as 'Good morning,' 'Can I see your ticket?' or even 'Hello' - chillingly, all these words are known to have been used by paedophiles.

The evidence is clear.

Honestly it'll be for our own good if we're all databased, tagged, chipped and followed around by a power-mad government.

Just think of the children. No not that way - that's creepy.

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Apollo 11 vets urge Mars mission

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Space exploration today is all about trying, and failing, to get a toilet to work.'

Which is why calling for an immediate mission to Mars is silly. If we can't get a toilet to work in low orbit, you don't want to think of spending 2 years in the company of a crapped out cyberloo. I don't think the Ares V is NASA's biggest challenge - it's the plumbing.

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US space superloo claps out

Mike Richards

Imagine the callout charge

When you need a plumber at a weekend in low orbit.

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Wikipedia's Gallery guy hung up to dry?

Mike Richards

I dream of a day when all this sort of thing could be avoided

Just imagine if someone were to come up with a hypermedia technology that would allow pages about the paintings on the Wikipedia site to link to their images stored on the NPG's servers.

Do you think it could be possible?

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Amazon vanishes 1984 from citizen Kindles

Mike Richards

My problem with this is...

The customer is the one who really loses out.

They bought (or licensed) the title from Amazon in good faith. Presumably Amazon were given the rights to those titles by the publisher. So it looks like the publisher goofed. In the olden days the publisher might have been expected to eat their loss. But not here.

A mature solution might have been for the publisher to stop further sales as soon as they noticed the error. They've lost nothing so far. After all, they got their royalties from each Kindle user. The books are DRMed up to the eyeballs so can't be copied (ahem) - so there's no risk of them spreading further (cough). The problem would have been contained, there'd have been no unhappy customers and Amazon wouldn't look bad.

Certainly Amazon should have behaved in a more consumer-friendly manner towards customers who've invested a hell of a lot of money in the company's eBook strategy - those are A-list customers guaranteed to come back time and time again, now they're pissed off. And they're letting the world know.

And like a lot of people here, it's really cooled me towards buying a Kindle.

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Xbox 360 reverses plunging console sales trend

Mike Richards

Could just be the 360 is the best supported of the consoles

The PS3 is more expensive and even a cursory glance shows that it has precious few 'must have' exclusive titles whereas those available on PS3 and 360 tend to look better on the Microsoft machine. I don't know if it's lazy coding or bad support from Sony or the desperate lack of texture memory on the PS3 - but some PS3 games are running in lower resolutions than the 360, have lower frame rates and some horribly blocky textures.

As for the Wii sales falling. Simple - once you've played Wii Sports, what else is there that's worth having? The Wii is a complete bust as a games platform, Nintendo seems to have forgotten to release games for it, preferring a series of gimmicks like Wii Fit and Wii Music which don't have much long appeal and are ridiculously expensive.

I'm on my 3rd 360, whereas my PS3 and Wii have behaved perfectly; but it's clear Microsoft have won this generation of consoles - they've tapped into popular sentiment and got a compelling set of exclusives.

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Swedish devil girls fingered on Street View

Mike Richards

@ Andy 3

'I'm calling "fake" on this one.'

Hold on, the culprits in these shocking photos are clearly blonde and must therefore be Swedish.

You can't fake that sort of thing.

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India plots 1.2bn user biometric ID cards project

Mike Richards

Easy solution

We outsource the whole Home Office to Bangalore and let the Indians have them. We'll even throw in every Home Secretary for the last 20 years to sweeten the deal.

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Mysterious organic blobs found in Alaskan waters

Mike Richards

Hold on...

15 fcuking miles long???? This thing's got a starring role in a future Michael Bay movie!

'Gordon Brower with the North Slope Borough's Planning and Community Services Department told the paper he saw some jellyfish tangled up in the goo and someone else retrieved bones and feathers from a dead goose.'

This thing's carnivorous???

We are so boned...

...on the upside it might be the only thing to save us all from Lewis' refrigerator-sized immortal jellyfish (El Reg passim).

I wonder how it handles Humvee sized Arctic spiders???

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Endeavour heads for ISS on sixth try

Mike Richards

@ Parax

'Thanks, that would be a good half hour (45mins?) after launch then?! I could have sworn they dropped it way earlier (shortly after meco) I obviously spent to long listening and not watching...'

You're right, the ET's jettisoned about 8 1/2 minutes after launch just after MECO; but it's only just sub-orbital so the burn-up is between 60 and 80 minutes after launch. It only needs a small change in velocity to put it into LEO, so during the 1980s there were a number of studies about putting the ET into orbit as the basis of a space station.

Yesterday's launch is here, the tank is jettisoned around 9 minutes in:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_MlgxV1lqo

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Mike Richards

@ Elsie

'Get there before they finish!'

Yep, there's going to be a big gap in launches before the Ares V flies.

NASA doesn't have that launching until 2018; but that's going to be a monster - 110m tall and 3,300 tonnes - it'll be like the good old days of the Saturn V. Now if only they'd built the Nova - that'd have been TWICE as powerful as the Saturn V; and if they hadn't had a sudden attack of 'what if it all went wrong?', the upper stage would have been nuclear.

If only they'd put Gerry Anderson in charge of the space programme.

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Vulture Central plans Brit-Yank dictionary

Mike Richards
Stop

@ The Original Ash

'Aluminium is actually pronounced Aluminum'

Nope, it's 'aluminium' according to the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (head boffins in the bangs and smells division). Sir Humphry Davy called it aluminum in 1812 before it had been isolated as an element, but this was objected to as long ago as 1813 with the 'ium' ending given on the grounds that it sounded 'more classical'.

Humphry Davy had previously called it 'alumium' but he might have been off his face on nitrous oxide at the time.

Just in case the Brits get too smug, the American spelling of 'sulfur' is the correct one. I use it just to piss off my pedantic colleagues.

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Lords cut Irish travel from e-Borders

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Not surprisingly this went down like a lead balloon with the NI Unionists...'

I wonder if this was a concession demanded by the Unionists in exchange for the support they're regularly giving the government to overcome Labour rebels on the backbenches?

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Amazon sued for cracks in Kindle

Mike Richards

Ummm folks...

He's not expecting to receive $5 million. It's a class action suit which if Amazon were found liable would see $5 million - expenses shared amongst the plaintiffs.

That's not to say $5 million is a reasonable sum, it's hard to see how they came to that number without knowing precisely how many cases have been sold and I doubt Amazon have released that number.

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