* Posts by Mike Richards

3595 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

PETA pronounces on Obama fly-swat

Mike Richards

David Icke's going to be disappointed

If his theory's correct, Obama should have zapped the bug with a prehensile tongue.

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Koenigsegg e-sportster moves closer to reality

Mike Richards

'fast saloons for dentists and lawyers.'

You left out architects.

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Endeavour launch scrubbed again

Mike Richards

@ Annihilator

'Confused - why is there a potential for needing to remove excess hydrogen? Not possible just to fill 'er up and seal the tank?'

The LH2 in the external tank is at -252C. Despite having four tonnes of mind-buggeringly good insulation on the tanks, the fuel is still warming up and about 1/2 kilo of liquid hydrogen boils off every hour. If this was allowed to accumulate in the tank it would overpressurise and things would get nasty for a small part of coastal Florida.

A small amount of hydrogen gas is used to pressurise the tank so that fuel can flow to the engines, but the excess is released through a valve and back along an umbilical line to where it can be safely discharged. The umbilical is mounted in the intertank area of the ET which is the ribbed section about two thirds of the way from the bottom.

There's a similar system in place for the liquid oxygen tank which makes up the nosecone of the ET. There, excess gas is vented from the very tip of the tank through a device called the Beanie Cap. You can see it swing free of the Shuttle about two minutes before launch.

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Tories don black cap for ID cards

Mike Richards

Contractors way of thinking

Sign contract now - get some immediate cash. If it's scrapped, claim under the cancellation clause. What's to lose?

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Ryanair requires web check-in, shuts down website

Mike Richards

If I were SouthWest I'd sue

RyanAir's business model is based on the Texan airline SouthWest which flies some truly terrifyingly brightly-coloured planes across most of the US. Cheap and cheerful - with an emphasis on the cheerful. Compared to every other domestic airline in the US, SouthWest is a breath of fresh air - nice, clean planes, great staff and reasonable fares.

RyanAir on the other hand...

Oh and another huge thumbs up for Eire O'Flot ;)

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Minority Report command sales system pushes Euro UAV

Mike Richards

The General Atomics Avenger

There's something called the General Atomics Avenger??? I don't know what it does, how much it costs or even what colour it is. I WANT ONE!!!

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Johnson shuffle returns ID cards to the table

Mike Richards

'doesn't plan to make carrying the cards compulsory'

Uh that's not a change of policy. The existing legislation says that it will not be compulsory to carry the card, but it will be compulsory to register with the database. IIRC Charles Clarke proposed that compulsion might be included in the next Labour manifesto, but that hasn't been mentioned since he was kicked out of the Home Office.

So this sounds like spin to me.

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'Alien' lifeform wakened from 120,000 year Arctic slumber

Mike Richards

Oh great...

So it's either 'The Thing' or Tom Baker's Doctor bowel-looseningly scary Krynoid.

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Israeli army develops one-eyed robot trouser snake

Mike Richards

Flashback

I'm sure something very similar menaced Jon Pertwee's Doctor when I was a kid. You can defeat them with a sonic screwdriver.

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NASA working on 'open rotor' green (but loud) jets

Mike Richards

You just know...

...one of those is going to play a prominent part in ending the career of a movie supervillain.

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Imagine! Government to legislate against badness

Mike Richards

Slippery words

Do they mean 'absolute poverty' or 'relative poverty'?

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German lad hit by 30,000 mph meteorite

Mike Richards

Sometimes I wonder if the Reg is entirely accurate

Small meteorites shed almost all their velocity in the upper atmosphere and hit the ground at only a few hundred kilometres an hour maximum - enough to give a nasty whack, but not enough to excite Michael Bay.

And as for the red hot bit - sorry, witness evidence suggests that meteorites are rarely more than warm when they arrive. They've been sitting in the cold of deep space for the last few billion years. The meteorite is protected from the frictional heat by the ablation of the outer layer, so relatively little heat gets to penetrate the rock itself. One scientist who picked up a fresh meteorite compared its temperature to a baked potato - too hot to hold, but not so hot that it would cause a serious burn.

Still, hit by a meteorite eh? That's a good excuse for skipping PE!

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Chinese firm hits back at cyberspy claims

Mike Richards

I'm satisfied with their explanation

Huawei is clearly a good company.

How do I know?

Simple. You showed a photo of their headquarters. If they were evil and hell-bent on global domination they'd be based in a volcano and keep pet sharks.

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Boffins: Bebo interstellar spam aliens don't exist after all

Mike Richards

@ Bounty @ Greg Fleming

'So what is it? Too cold or too hot.'

The answer is - it depends.

On a small planet that cools quickly, or where there isn't enough tidal massaging to keep it turning over; CO2 comes out of volcanoes, reacts with the surface rocks to form carbonates and gets locked away forever. No CO2, no greenhouse effect, the surface of the planet begins to cool, eventually taking water vapour out of the atmosphere - increasing the cooling, and you end up with a Mars.

If the planet gets too hot - from being too close to the sun, there's no chance of surface oceans as it boils into the atmosphere, increasing the greenhouse effect and taking with it one of the big carbon sinks for dissolved CO2. Over a certain temperature, the carbonates in the crust also start to release CO2, the greenhouse effect goes crazy bad and you have Venus.

'Not strictly a prerequisite to organic life. Other solvents (e.g. ammonia) work just as well if you've evolved swimming in them.'

True to an extent, although apart from ammonia being a nasty chemical capable of tearing apart proteins; it's also liquid at such low temperatures that chemical reactions run really slowly - so even if we did meet an alien lifeform that smelt like a blocked toilet, it'd be a painfully slow conversation - a bit like IMing over BT Total Broadband (see I got an IT angle) - the good news is that you could probably run away from it.

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Mike Richards

Well colour me awe-struck

'ravening, self-mothered pseudohydrozoan immortal Dr Who jellyfish clone vampire blobomination horror-swarm'

Wow.

Just wow. Possibly the finest use of the English language in history.

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Periodic table adding new element

Mike Richards

@ 'the spectacularly refined chap' @ Anonymous Coward

'Since all those elements are known and they still haven't got around to naming it why is this news all of a sudden? IUPAC have suddenly decided that it is an element when that fact was not in dispute anyway?'

Although the element was actually synthesised in 1996 and repeated in 2000; the results of the decay of the daughter isotope were incompatible with one another. A third experiment in 2004 confirmed the original experiment; since then its been a matter of straightening things out the decay series.

***

'So it's possible to create a new element in laboratory conditions with a miniscule life expectancy. And it gets an entry in the periodic table? It seems outrageously artificial.'

Depends what you mean by 'artificial'; if you mean this element could never naturally exist at any time in any place in the Universe, then it is clearly natural. If you mean 'never observed on Earth before now' then it is artificial.

Nuclear boffins have models for the nuclei of atoms which suggest that superheavy elements way beyond the current periodic table might be much more stable than other 'manmade' elements with half lives that could be hours, days, years or even geological periods. So it's a long slog looking for the Island of Stability which may or may not exist.

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Venezuela spits out Coke Zero

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'I always wondered how they take "everything" out ... memories of the chem engineers coming from a lab in which they'd decaffeinated coke. They all vowed never to touch the stuff after seeing how its done - wish they'd elaborated, the mind boggles!!'

They probably used dichloromethane (methylene chloride) which is also used as paint stripper, degreaser or dry cleaning fluid. It's been linked to eye damage, hepatitis and a delightfully wide range of cancers. Ironically it became popular because the previous decaffeinating agent - benzene - was considered too poisonous. Most commercial decaffeination now use hot water in something ominously called 'the Swiss Process', a few outfits use supercritical carbon dioxide which is much less exciting than it sounds.

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Mike Richards

Fascinating insight into the Reg readership

When it comes to artificial sweeteners, the average Reg reader has a body like a temple. No unnatural substance will pass their lips. If we have a discussion on the banning of smoking in pubs, the average Reg reader must have lungs dripping with coal tar and breath that can knock a camel dead at fifty paces.

To continue our studies; what's the Register audience's consensus view on the yumminess or otherwise of súrsaðir hrútspungar (and don't tell me that's not a bugger to type)? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Þorramatur)

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Mars projected to collide with Earth

Mike Richards

@ Rod MacLean

'Seriously though, how can Mercury's gravitational tug pull Mars towards the Earth? This seems like abject fantasy and needs more explaination. Mercury is tiny (in cosmic terms all the planets are tiny) surely the gravity of the sun will hold it more or less in place...?'

It's all down to orbital resonances - how many times Mercury goes round the Sun compared to other planets. Mercury sits in a very - okay - relatively elliptical orbit, the perihelion (closest approach to the Sun) itself progresses around the Sun. Jupiter has a less elongated orbit, but that too has a progressing perihelion. Left long enough, these perihelions begin to align; Mercury *could* find itself receiving an extra tug from Jupiter at the same point in its orbit, which gradually evolves the orbit into an extreme ellipse taking it out into the region of Venus.

If Mercury's orbit is that disrupted, it begins to create new resonances with Mars' orbit; one scenario being that Mars itself goes into a more elliptical orbit whose perihelion is in the vicinity of Earth.

But as the second poster pointed out, it's hard to see how these calculations can be at all accurate given our limited knowledge of the planets' orbits over the long term.

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US extradition could push McKinnon 'towards suicide'

Mike Richards

According to today's Indy...

McKinnon is supported in his fight by...

David Blunkett

You know, the same tw*t who was the Home Secretary that signed the lop-sided extradition treaty in the first place.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/pentagon-hacker-in-last-bid-to-avoid-extradition-1701101.html

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Japanese lunar orbiter to go out with a bang

Mike Richards

@ Ian Ferguson @ Lionel Baden

'I'm not clear what research benefit this gives over watching a natural meteor crash into the moon.'

Believe it or not, telescopes aren't regularly pointed at the Moon. With a space craft impact you can know the exact time of the impact and point your instruments at it, you know the trajectory and mass of the impactor, so you can work out things like the amount of energy delivered to the lunar surface; and if you then see the crater, you know a lot about the make-up of the lunar surface which allows you to estimate the size of naturally occurring craters. If you're lucky you can also measure the plume and see if it contains any unexpected substances.

Sadly the Apollo era seismic network on the Moon was switched off long ago to save money. That used to provide really useful data about the rate of impacts, the relative size of impactors and the internal structure of the Moon.

'i thought the idea of orbiting something had a little to do with going around an object not trying to go through it'

The probe is at the end of its life and will have probably exhausted any remaining fuel. Lunar gravity is remarkably 'lumpy' and its very hard to keep a ship in a stable low orbit for any length of time. Lunar gravity isn't smooth because of the huge mass concentrations around the large impact basins on the near side. Their precise cause is unclear, in part it is down to the very dense basalt that fills them (making them dark when seen from Earth); but it is also likely that the interface between the light lunar Crust and denser Mantle is closer to the surface below the mascons.

HTH.

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Pirate Party wins seat in European Parliament

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Just remember that Hitler was elected by a free and democratic election...'

And people then said they voted Nazi, not because they agreed with its anti-semitism, but because they agreed with its economic policies, promise of stability and excellent local organisation. Weimar voters may not have voted for the extermination of Jews and other minorities, but by turning a blind eye to the Nazis racism they made it possible.

People may have voted BNP because they promised to make sure the bins were emptied, or like in my area, were the only ones who put leaflets through the door, but they can't possibly claim to be ignorant of the BNP's deeper motives. People who voted BNP actively support racism - let's not make excuses for them.

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Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Whereas 7.1% of Swedes are a bunch of freeloaders?'

Careful, now they've remembered their pirate ancestry they'll be stocking up on surströmming, ABBA compilations and pointing their IKEA flatpack long boats towards Britain's East Coast in the hope of going back to Göteborg with a pile of danegeld and some lovely English girls.

What the Swedes don't realise is that they will be facing the only people on earth more blonde, more tanned and with a greater capacity for alcohol than themselves.

Essex Girls.

The poor bastards won't stand a chance.

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Research: Airliners can be more eco-friendly than trains

Mike Richards

Quick skim read

Suggests that 747s are more environmentally friendly for urban transport than little trains. I cannot wait to see one of them rolling down the North Circular.

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Adobe's quarterly patch cycle to commence Tuesday

Mike Richards

Oh this is going to be fun

My experience of Adobe products is that they make perhaps the worst updating software in the World.

Inevitably you need to update the updater. It takes pretty much forever to get the file no matter how fast your connection. You start the updater updater - at which point you have to quit the application you've been trying to use.

It installs. Then you try to run the new version of the updater which lists a dozen different patches. You find the one with the lowest version date, it downloads (slowly), starts running, then complains this update isn't compatible with the existing version of the application.

So you exit the updater, go to the Adobe site, battle your way through layer upon layer of nonsense to get files whose names seem to be plucked from the thin air. Download those - and it's still only an hour since you fired up the original application.

Run the installer which works for a while, the progress bar gets about half way - and then it freezes - for hours. Quit the updater and try to run it again - oh but it can't because the update has been applied!

Too much trouble. I need to do some work. Start the original application again, the updater fires up to say there are patches which need to be applied - including the one you supposedly just installed. At which point you kill the updater and disable it from ever running again figuring that having a broken version of the application vulnerable to attack is much less stressful than trying to do things Adobe's way.

Oh and that's on a Mac, god only knows if it manages to be worse on Windows, but I find it hard to believe Adobe could resist additional laughs by buggering around with the Registry.

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Pioneer Kuro KRL-37V LCD TV

Mike Richards

No more Pioneer plasmas

A real shame, a friend blew £3k on a Kuro plasma and it is just about the most awesome TV ever. It's about the same shape and size as the Monolith from 2001 and its blacks are even blacker. I don't know why they pulled out of the plasma market when they were so far ahead of the opposition.

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Brown to Sugar: 'You're hired'

Mike Richards

Seems apt

A bully who's made his fortune on the back of a crazy property market - Surullen and Brown seem like a good match for one another.

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Great Panjandrum menaces North Devon

Mike Richards

All will be well

Just so long as Pike's crystal set doesn't interfere with the radio signal.

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Robosub prowls Pacific's hadal depths

Mike Richards

Ummmm someone's not been checking their comparisons

'braving pressures greater than 1,000 times that at Earth’s surface, or "crushing forces similar to those on the surface of Venus"'

The pressure at the bottom of the Marianas Trench *IS* about 100 MegaPascals (really big French mathematicians), but the surface pressure on Venus is only (HAH!) 9.3 MegaPascals.

This sort of confusion would be avoided if the World switched to a sensible measure of pressure we could all understand such as the force generated by 1 metric Wales balanced on a double-decker bus.

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Phorm woos browsers with personalised web

Mike Richards

South Korea?

This sort of technology would be much more at home in North Korea.

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Blears is latest to scurry away from Brown's Cabinet

Mike Richards

I like this idea

But rather than a rota can't we just appoint the Moderatrix as Dictator? Tough on crime, tough on the causes of inappropriate postings.

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Sony shows off PS3 motion-control magic wand

Mike Richards

Peripherals

'1) They weren't shipped with the console at launch. No sane developer is going to risk ruining a game's potential appeal to the public at large by making it only playable by those who've purchased a bonus (and potentially expensive) gadget.'

A hard disk wasn't shipped with all XBox 360s, but owning one has become almost compulsory. Those folks who didn't have a drive originally have been picking them up as it becomes clear the 360 is nigh-on useless without them.

Which brings me on to...

Wii Fit has been topping the British charts for months now, it is only now available in-store without pre-ordering. That's a major financial outlay on top of the price of the Wii and it only works with a single game. Yet hundreds of thousands have been sold.

So it does look like people will buy peripherals if they are compelling enough.

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Gordon 'to sacky' Wacky Jacqui

Mike Richards

Also...

Don't overlook that evil witch Beverley Hughes is also stepping down from Parliament for 'personal reasons'. She helped whip up the hysteria over Chris Morris' 'Paedogeddon' programme calling it 'unbelievably sick' and only later admitted that she had not watched the programme and had no intention of doing so. She was a sort of early warning of New Labour's attitude towards anyone who rocked the status quo - we should have paid more attention.

Oh and Tom Watson, co-conspirator in the Drapergate Number 10 email smears is also going. Now is it too much to hope Tony McNulty will do the decent thing and leave us all alone?

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Mike Richards

@ AC

'no matter how bad the next chump is in the position it cannot possibly be worse than this terrible piece of crap. I couldn't be happy with this news.'

NO!

No!

No!

You just don't say those sort of things. It's a bit like steering your copper bottomed boat full of nitroglycerine through a storm off the Scillies seeing the map by the light of a lit match.

If Blunkett's back in the Cabinet on Monday I'll hold you responsible.

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ISPs frosty on Jacqui's comms surveillance plan

Mike Richards

@ Tony Paulazzo

'Let's just hope and pray that whoever replaces her is less Shadow like and more Vorlon.'

You mean unintelligible and dresses in a shower curtain? Is that a cry for Anne 'shackle 'em' Widdecombe to become Home Secretary?

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Level 3 wilts in London sunshine (again)

Mike Richards

@Bod

There are also big plans to build server farms at Keflavik in Iceland.

It's rarely more than 23C outside, so the cooling is minimised; and Landsvirkjun, the Icelandic power company has offered 20 year guarantees on power pricing. (Not to mention all that power is carbon-free). Landsvirkjun have also said that all future big power projects will either be for server farms or for solar silicon production; shifting away from aluminium smelting which has been their biggest customer so far. For the Icelanders that'd be a big benefit since aluminium is a commodity whose price fluctuates crazily with the state of the World economy.

There's also plenty of opportunity to use Iceland's geographic position between the US and Europe as a way of shifting load from one side of the Pond to the other as the day passes.

Shame about the tits-up economy really.

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Microsoft, Asus launch anti-Linuxbook campaign

Mike Richards

Installed Windows on my Linux netbook

I've got the Aspire One and the bundled version of Linux was a nightmare to keep up-to-date. Essential software patches were not available via the official updater MONTHS after they have been released. The only way to keep the machine up-to-date was to hit the command line and do everything by hand (and often finding new incompatibilities as you went).

For Joe Public this is simply too much hassle. Microsoft, after having so much practice, have got a simple way of updating applications.

If the netbook manufacturers had been serious about Linux they would have shipped something that combined Linux's security with a usable update procedure.

And that's my excuse.

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Colour Kindle in development, says Amazon

Mike Richards

An interesting halfway house...

...is the screen being demonstrated by Pixel Qi - makers of the OLPC screen. In full power mode it is a conventional backlit colour LCD; but flip a switch and it turns into monochrome energy frugal electronic paper.

A picture of one of their 10.1" displays in an Aspire One here: http://www.pixelqi.com/blog1/

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Revealed: Full specs on SEAL Team Six multimedia setup

Mike Richards

Bit disappointed

Hollywood has led me to believe that America's finest would settle for nothing less than Ken Adams inspired bunkers with wall displays and touch-screen tables; not something from Dixons.

I just hope they get some of those electric jetskis.

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Wikipedia bans Church of Scientology

Mike Richards

@ Flugal

'Aren't all religions are cults?'

Debatably yes. Though Scientology is the only one that charges you to read its holy books and threatens anyone who disseminates their 'teachings' through unofficial channels.

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Shifty study proclaims Brits a nation of freetards

Mike Richards

David Lammy

Isn't he also a minister for Higher Education? Since he's more concerned about BitTorrent that could explain the state of universities right now.

He talks about 'future sustainability of our copyright industries.'

Easy answer. There isn't a future for copyright. Time for a new model.

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Mike Richards

@ Lionel Baden

'the amount of times ive bought a game and regreted not checking it first !!!!'

Absolutely agree. And don't forget this government is a huge fan of DRM which means under a strict interpretation of the law I can't watch many movies that are region coded. I fail to see how downloading a movie only available in Region 1, or an eBook who's publishers have forbidden it to be sold in the UK, constitutes a lost sale.

Big story yesterday about a blind woman who bought an eBook version of the Bible from Amazon. The publisher had decided it would not work with voice synthesis software so she was unable to use her book. Amazon do not offer refunds on eBooks and the publishers refused to budge. What did she do? She downloaded a cracked version of the Bible that did allow for spoken word.

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Blog homeopathy horror hammers hippy herbalists

Mike Richards

Guardian Group and alternative health

Don't forget this is the same organisation that ran 'The Barefoot Doctor' column in the Observer for years and years. That ended nastily too when he was foolish enough to go online and try to answer questions.

BTW. his advice to coping with everything from male pattern baldness to dying horribly in a bus crash was massaging your kidneys and/or liberal applications of lavender oil.

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Virgin Galactic tests laughing-gas powered rocket motor

Mike Richards

Beardie's got some neck

I actually don't really care about the environmental impact of the suborbital jolly business, but this green spin is laughable. Per passenger, the emissions are about 'a quarter of that for a return trip from London to New York'.

Using one of Virgin's rather lovely airliners to fly the Pond and back takes say 12 hours total. The burn time of SpaceShipOne's engine was - 83 SECONDS. Whatever way you look at it, space junkets are a profligate use of energy.

But that's not the biggest turn off, surely the thought of being trapped in a small cabin with the likes of Beardie and Paris is more than enough to keep me earthbound.

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'Supermodel' glow-in-the-dark pocket monkeys created

Mike Richards

Jellyfish

Can the Cnidarian experts at the Reg's Defence and Ooze desk tell us if these are the much feared IMMORTAL jellyfish?

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Summer debut for Judge Dredd computer smart-rifle

Mike Richards

Needs an improvement

'The XM-25 smartgunner then selects how much nearer or further from that location he thinks the target is - for an enemy behind a normal wall, the soldier would choose +1 metre.'

Hopefully this is interactive and performed with the voice of Bruce Forsyth.

'Oooh so that's five metres. Do you want to go higher or lower? [BANG!] Good game! Good game!'

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BNP pleads for cash after reported DDoS assault

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Now at 78.129.146.137. Anyone got a teenie-weenie botnet spare?'

Try twittering the people at BBC 'Click' last time I heard they had one they needed to get rid of.

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Mike Richards

Clear Channel

Is this the same Clear Channel that pumps right-wing conspiracy lunatics such as Rush Limbaugh from Sea to Shining Sea?

Figures.

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Microsoft announces Zune HD

Mike Richards

Kinda handsome

But I hope that screen's a mock-up or customisable. It's always a good idea to have the whole of your main menu fit on the screen at once.

But having said that, I've found the look and feel of the Zune interface and the Zune Store to be far superior to Apple's offerings.

As a piece of hardware and software this *should* be a big success, but I suspect with another iPhone refresh imminent, Microsoft is going to be lucky to maintain their increasingly irrelevant market share.

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Boffins develop interstellar alien ocean-spotting tool

Mike Richards

@ Andy B

The physical size of the crescent Earth as seen from that distance was smaller than one pixel, the reflected light was bright enough to register across a single pixel.

And El Reg...

If you're going to use the 'pale blue dot' meme, it's worth linking to Carl Sagan's commencement address where he used the phrase for the first time. It's a wonderfully evocative piece of prose:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_blue_dot#Reflections_by_Sagan

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