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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Cops wanted compulsory DNA cards

Mike Richards

Hold on...

'the main potential beneficiaries of an Identity Cards scheme, such as police, DVLA, Passport Agency, IND, DWP, Inland Revenue and the financial sector'

New Labour told me that WE were going to be the main potential beneficiaries of an Identity Cards scheme.

Could they have been lying?

Hold on. Lips moving, making a noise - yep they were lying.

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Boffin builds DIY solar cell from doughnuts and tea

Mike Richards

@ Filippo

'Wtf is titanium doing in my donuts?'

It's an inert whitener used in everything from paint to toothpaste by way of doughnut sugar.

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Minister confirms U-turn on data sharing

Mike Richards

On the bright side

The next time this atrocity can be realistically introduced is in the next Parliamentary session beginning in November. However, that session is going to be curtailed because an election has to be called by May - meaning Parliament is peroged no later than mid April. So the government won't have much of an opportunity to introduce contentious legislation which could ping-pong between Commons and the Lords. Any legislation that isn't completed before the dissolution of Parliament, automatically falls.

But we have to vote these fuckers out of power for a generation.

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Juror tweets could force retrial

Mike Richards

Doesn't matter if he tw*tted after the verdict

He has violated one of the rules of the jury system - all of the discussions of the jury and how they come to their verdict are supposed to be secret. Doing this causes grave problems when it comes to any appeal.

Hopefully the court will consider this a contempt and the little tw*tter can be sent to somewhere where Big Earl wants to become his very special friend.

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Councils clamp down on Strategy Boutique Newspeak

Mike Richards

Awestruck

'Predictors of Beaconocity'

Wow!

I mean - wow!

Someone actually used that and their vestigial sense of irony never even kicked in. Hold on, who's in charge of the Department for Communities and Local Government? [clickity]

Aha. Explains everything:

http://www.communities.gov.uk/profiles/corporate/hazelblears

The simpering ginger android herself.

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Kraft puts foot in big pot of yoghurt?

Mike Richards

Oh crap = we're going to see more of this

Marketing companies are having a tough time now that advertising revenues are falling. But hello! Perhaps they have a new victim - all they have to do is persuade a vulnerable company that falling sales aren't down to a global economy in the toilet, but rather to out-of-date branding. In exchange for a couple of million, everything will be all right thanks to the Columbian nose candy brigade and the liberal application of swooshes and lower-case sans serif to everything.

It's going to be terrifying.

SyFy as Stef mentioned above is like applying a cheesegrater to the eyeball - but the strapline 'Think Greater' is somehow even worse.

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Boffins finger reason for non-aligned cows

Mike Richards

Remaining unanswered question

Are cows like fluorescent tubes?

If you stick them under a high tension cable, do they light up?

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British Korea ambassador in 'diplomatic' blog shock

Mike Richards

Best bit...

The corrections in the comments:

'The elections were the same as such events everywhere with voters turning out in their hundreds, but there were no opposition candidates: in fact there was only one person standing for each seat which is why all the candidates were elected with 100 approval; and there was a 99 turn out because the compulsory voting was strictly enforced.'

New Labour's postal voting wouldn't be satisfied with a mere 100% approval.

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Dell MacBook Air Adamo officially launched

Mike Richards

A truly radical machine

The biggest breakthrough on the Adamo appears to be that it doesn't have any 'Intel Inside', 'Core 2 Duo' or 'Designed for Windows Vista' stickers.

And to go with the consensus so far - the Air is a far more handsome beastie.

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Lights out, Britons told - we're running out of power

Mike Richards

Britain's like Iceland...

Two countries, with appalling weather in the North Atlantic. English is spoken in both - although arguably better in Iceland. The economy in each country has been frankly buggered. But Iceland's more appealing because at least they can keep the lights on.

And you can buy delicious free-range organic whale.

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DARPA to build nothingness detector for tunnel sniffing

Mike Richards

Borderline bonkers - it's DARPA

Airborne gravity surveys are pretty routine in the oil and gas industry, so it is possible to build gravimeters that can survey being buffeted in a plane and compensate for any movements relative to the terrain.

BUT the differences they're looking to identify here are insanely small - in the tenths or even thousands of a milliGal (i.e. not-a-lot). This sounds only borderline doable, so they'd better turn their beanie-caps up to 11.

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National Express to 'ban' trainspotting

Mike Richards

@ Peter R

'Lord Adonis ???

'You jest, surely ?'

Setting aside the fact that with Lord Adonis *someone* is having a joke even if I can't see the funny side. It's all too true: 'Andrew Adonis, Baron Adonis is a United Kingdom Minister of State in the Department for Transport, a role he has held since 3 October 2008.' (Wikipedia)

As the author Robert Harris once said about this leading New Labour intellectual (sorry, I can't keep a straight face) he's 'more Andrew than Adonis'

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Mike Richards

Ticket inspectors

Many trains don't seem to have them these days; and I suspect one or indeed both of the following reasons:

1: trains are so grotesquely overcrowded on many routes, the inspector can't physically get through the train, or;

2: they get so much grief from passengers that they daren't go into the cars - telling people who've spent £x thousand on a season ticket that they shouldn't stand in an exit, or telling others that they should find somewhere to put their luggage other than the tables or aisles when there is no luggage space* - can't do much for morale.

* no, I have to say it - don't stop me now. What TWAT developed the interior layout of Virgin Pendolinos and put luggage racks in the middle of the cars? Meaning you have to walk half the length of the car down a narrow aisle to stow your luggage, THEN turn around to fight your way through the rest of the crowd trying to do the same???

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Discovery en route to ISS

Mike Richards

Night launch

I thought NASA had banned Shuttle launches at night after Columbia? They said they were going to take high resolution video right through to the ET separation to watch for any foam shedding.

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BBC botnet investigation turns hacks into hackers

Mike Richards

Must have had legal advice

The show will have to have been cleared with the BBC lawyers before broadcast (and if they were sensible, they will have got legal advice BEFORE production even started), so it will be fascinating to know what 'Click' was told.

The law appears to be clear, but I wonder if the Beeb's lawyers thought they could rely on a 'public interest' defence - and if they did, where they got that reading of the law.

Still I feel sorry for 'Click''s half-dozen regular viewers if Spencer and co. are sent to chokey.

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Phorm CEO clashes with Berners-Lee at Parliament

Mike Richards

Phorm defended by Peter Bazelgette?

Doesn't that constitute a critical mass of shit?

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Apple preps netbook 10-inch touch screen thingy

Mike Richards

Read Jobs' words

'We don’t know how to make a $500 computer that’s not a piece of junk'

That leaves two possibilities:

1: Apple could be putting a lot of effort into trying to design a half decent n**book for $500, or:

2: they could release a machine with the general n**book format, add some special Apple sauce and use that to justify a higher price. The 12" Powerbook still commands high prices on eBay, so there is a demand for a small Apple laptop.

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ID and Passport Service brings in ad men

Mike Richards

Recession spending

Ah more government advertising. Because what the country needs now is a taxpayer bailoutof the Bolivian cocaine industry.

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Court rules airline secret security list is stupid

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

We shouldn't be fearing razors on planes. It's that bloody plastic they use to wrap memory cards, headphones and razors. Get through Security, go to Dixons, buy an SD card for a tenner and you have a weapon with a lethal edge.

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No welcome in the valleys for Welsh incinerator

Mike Richards

Denmark

Most people know Denmark has gone a long way to get power from the wind, but 400,000 Danish households get their power and heat from waste-to-power plants just like this.

And these campaigners are against the power station AND a coal mine? Well it's not like the Valleys need jobs is it?

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Straw bends on Coroners & Justice data-sharing proposals

Mike Richards

Like the end of any good horror movie

This proposal will come back, leaping out of the shadows in a different bill or statutory instrument. The only way we'll know it's dead is when New Labour is interred with a stake through its heart.

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Illinois restores Pluto's planetary status

Mike Richards

NY Planetarium showdown

Neil deGrasse Tyson from the NY planetarium was interviewed by 'The Daily Show''s Jon Stewart about his decision to demote Pluto from their exhibit. It's well worth a watch:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=216998&title=neil-degrasse-tyson

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Israelis develop 'safe' plutonium: good for power, bad for weapons

Mike Richards

Chemistry

It's a long time since I did any recreational actinide chemistry, so I was wondering about using lanthanum as a carrier to separate plutonium from americium; but a quick check online suggests there's an even easier way:

http://scitation.aip.org/getabs/servlet/GetabsServlet?prog=normal&id=APCPCS000532000001000239000001&idtype=cvips&gifs=yes

'A single stage process using MgCl2 in CaCl2 has been demonstrated to remove 90% of the americium from plutonium with no transfer of impurities to the product metal except magnesium, which is readily removed in a vacuum casting operation. ©2000 American Institute of Physics.'

$24 for the whole paper.

God bless Aldermaston.

It's hardly surprising that techniques for separating the two are well-developed. Pu241 is a contaminant in most plutonium, decaying to americium with a 13 year half-life. This affects bomb performance, so it can be necessary to separate the two elements in plutonium which has come from reactors with a long burn time.

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OLED-equipped 'open source' EV shown at Geneva Motor Show

Mike Richards

World's largest...

...fingerprint magnet.

Kind of funky looking though.

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MPs vote to keep addresses private (theirs, not yours)

Mike Richards

Let's get Web 2.0 on their asses...

Anyone up for a Web site listing MP's addresses? If anyone lives near an MP, they could submit the address which would go on to a public site.

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US warboffins update Where Eagles Dare gizmo-bombs

Mike Richards

Does it have...?

A red wire and a blue wire for the oh-so-tense 'can he stop the bomb, save the ship and marry the gorilla' finale?

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BT OpenZone: Is it or isn't it?

Mike Richards

Opt-out, opt-in

BT really seem to be having a lot of trouble deciding what's opt-in and what's opt-out these days.

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NASA delays Kepler launch for rocket checks

Mike Richards

Why I believe in alien life

Is because if Wacky Jacqui, Blinky Blunkett and the rest of them really are representative of the most advanced lifeform in the Universe, then the last 13 billion and something years have been completely wasted.

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Ryanair may charge cattle to use the bog

Mike Richards

Right let's see...

RyanAir fly to countries using a range of currencies. Are all passengers, no matter where they're getting on or off, expected to carry Pounds, or will their toilets have a dozen slots?

Sounds like Old Mick is trying to rile the press again.

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Toshiba Portégé R600

Mike Richards

Durability

Hopefully the chassis on this machine is better than its predecessor. A colleague's R500 has developed a nasty crack after only a couple of months thanks to its eggshell thin plastic casing. Rather than go back to Toshiba, he's getting a MB.

Light's nice, but not so nice if you can't carry the machine around without swathing it in bubblewrap.

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McKinnon's UK trial bid rejected by DPP

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'as they haven't yet ratified the Geneva Convention '

The US has ratified the various Geneva Conventions with the exception of two 1977 protocols which amend the previous 1949 Convention.

And I hate to point this out, the US Senate unanimously ratified the 2003 Extradition Treaty in September 2006.

But we should be gravely worried about the asymmetries in the treaty regarding prima-facie evidence.

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Reg Reader poll on notebook quality: results are in

Mike Richards

Perhaps peoples' perceptions are wrong

The chart shows that the two brands most praised for build quality and reliability are also those that people perceive as being overpriced. Which suggests to me, that the consumer isn't picking up on the costs involved in making laptops that are reliable. Maybe the marketing people at Apple and Sony need to take a leaf out of BMW and Audi's books to see how to sell a premium product and make reliability and build quality a real part of their promotions.

My experience? My latest MB is rock solid and well screwed together and a nice change from the previous laptops I've had from Apple. My Acer appears to be made from the same grade of plastic used to make yogurt pots but is surprisingly solid to handle.

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Boffins: Send robot lawn tractors to the Moon

Mike Richards

@ ian

'Surely one can be found of the right size and shape, requiring only minimal retooling.'

Nice idea, sadly the Moon has almost no exposed bedrock. The bigger craters were all gouged out more than a billion years ago and since then any exposed rock has been eroded into regolith by micrometeorites and radiation.

What we really need is a huge moonbase with fancy elevators that can take spaceships down into an underground hanger. Then we can use the Moon to store all our nuclear waste.

What could possibly go wrong?

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NASA CO2 scan satellite launch fails

Mike Richards

@Pantelis

If the payload fairing didn't deploy the satellite is a write-off.

Either the additional weight which should have been jettisoned will prevent it reaching orbit, in which case it will make a hypersonic re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere; or, if it does reach orbit, the satellite remains trapped inside the fairing, can't deploy its sensors and solar panels and the poor thing dies either of overheating or when its battery dies.

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NASA's CO2-scan sat set to launch

Mike Richards

oops!

Just blew up before reaching orbit.

Paging Andrew O - we need a carbon conspiracy theory stat.

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North Korea announces missile test sat launch

Mike Richards

Little bit of confusion here...

This wouldn't be the first time North Korea has tried a satellite launch. In 1998 they claimed to have put a satellite, Kwangmyŏngsŏng, into orbit using a smaller Taepodong-1 derived rocket. For once they weren't entirely lying; it looks like it was a genuine satellite launch, but either the final stage failed to fire or it didn't fire in the right direction, because the satellite was never located in the published orbit; instead its debris was recorded falling across a large swathe of the North Pacific.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the North Korean government claimed that Kwangmyŏngsŏng was orbiting high over the Earth playing back revolutionary songs.

It's entirely possible this test of the Taepodong-2-alike is also a satellite launch attempt. After all, the much better funded and successful Iranian Safir-2 launcher is little more than a rebadged (oh god I hate typing this word) Taepodong-2.

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Comet Lulin poses for NASA's Swift

Mike Richards

Clockwise?

That should be a retrograde orbit.

The majority of comets on trajectories similar to Lulin follow retrograde orbits, and the most famous of all comets, Halley, is also retrograde, so they aren't at all uncommon.

I just want to know if Bruce Willis has been put on standby, or if we can all sleep safely in our beds?

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Hitler ordered Luftwaffe to spare Blackpool

Mike Richards

Seaside landladies

Are you sure they would have fought on our side?

No noise, no coming back late, regulation breakfasts, no running baths outside of hours - sounds like a bunch of fascistic fifth columnists to me.

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Gadget-buying Taliban 5th column in Blighty - shock!

Mike Richards

Remote control of death

You know, I might just be making a stab in the dark here (metaphorically of course); but Pakistan is a country that has developed an intermediate range ballistic missile, uranium enrichment, plutonium separation and a miniaturised boosted fission bomb - it might therefore (conceivably) be sophisticated enough to have also mastered the television remote control.

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Microsoft asks laid-off staff to refund overpaid redundo cash

Mike Richards

@ Richard

Sorry, once you are aware you have been paid in error you are obliged to pay the money back, but you can negotiate the timescale of any repayments.

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Blunkett and ex-CPS chief turn on Home Office

Mike Richards

Oh FFS!

It's Monday morning and I must have fallen down a rabbit hole somewhere where David Blunkett is the guardian of our liberties.

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Father of ID cards moots compulsory passports instead

Mike Richards

Ummm

Only about 80% of Brits have a passport now, so we have to assume 20% never see a need for one because they don't want to go places where the water's funny.

So how can you force people to have a passport if they have no intention of leaving the country?

Or is Blunkett's big idea a return to his beloved model society of East Germany and we'll all need internal passports for travel?

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Forget flying to the stars - try quicker-drying bras

Mike Richards

Bulgarian airbag compliance?

Truly this is a technological zenith, but will it cater for the Jordans of this world?

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Philips prices up 21:9 ratio 'cinema' TV

Mike Richards

@Ben Norris

Post 1950ish movies will fit the screen with almost no black bands.

16.9 TV content *IS* scaled but in a weird way on this new set. The middle of the image is almost untouched with progressively more distortion towards the sides. Theory is, on a set of this side, the distortion goes almost unnoticed by the viewer - although I'm not sure it will work so well with stuff where action takes place towards the sides of the picture.

4.3 IIRC is not scaled in any way and sits in an ocean of blackness.

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Euro-style GM Volt design revealed

Mike Richards

@ Keiran

'I don't think it's possible for any car to look good in white.'

An Aston Martin looks good in any colour. (And for that whol-hearted endorsement of their products I will be willing to accept an Aston in white)

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Hulu's Hollywood overlords force Boxee block

Mike Richards

Hulu is part owned by...

...News International. Who own Fox and Sky...

...meanwhile in the UK; Sky was one of the companies who got the Competition Commission to block the BBC/ITV/Channel 4 Project Kangaroo.

Anyone see a trend here?

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Pro-Heathrow demo challenges Carbon Cult killjoys

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'That aircraft con trails help to reduce global warming by increasing high level cloud that reflects heat.... but then again studies can show anything you want the to.'

Ummm no they don't. Contrails actually trap more heat than they reflect.

Ponater, M.; S. Marquart, R. Sausen and U. Schumann (2005). "On contrail climate sensitivity". Geophysical Research Letters 32 (10)

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Swiss boffins build bonkers iPhone-operated electric sportster

Mike Richards

Before driving

Please disable the iPhone's sleep function

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Laptop facial recognition defeated by Photoshop

Mike Richards

But... but... but...

Jacqui Smith told me that biometrics were foolproof.

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ESA gives £6m to Brit spaceplane project

Mike Richards

Ten years to design and build

Fifty more to get planning approval for the necessary runway at Heathrow.

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