* Posts by Mike Richards

3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

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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DARPA seeks self-aware AI robot mega-tanks

Mike Richards

Haven't I seen one of these already?

Trundling over the title credits for Terminator...

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US Navy orders new electric hyper-kill railgun

Mike Richards

@ Rodrigo Valenzuela

'But I still don't get why there are flames and other symptoms associated with chemical explosions. Why?'

One of two possible explanations come to mind:

1: The whatever-the-hell-its-made-of is being heated by friction with the air to a point where it is reacting with oxygen - i.e. burning; or;

2: Industrial Light and Magic were called in to make it a lot more impressive to an audience used to Michael Bay features.

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Too busy to make a jam sandwich? M&S can help

Mike Richards

Any chance of a decent PBJ?

You just can't get the real grape jelly on this side of the Atlantic, and the UK peanut butter isn't right either (okay it doesn't kill you either) to make the perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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AA sniffs out Blighty's best bacon sarnie

Mike Richards

One drawback

I reckon you have to do about 200 miles if you want a decent abcon sandwich, a proper cup of tea and a comfort break.

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NTT DoCoMo shows off futuristic modular phone

Mike Richards

Something's wrong

Billions of Pounds spent by a mobemaker and not one of their designs looks like an iPhone. Couldn't DoCoMo even bring themselves to mention multitouch or an App Store?

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Minister trashes ex-spook chief's liberty warning

Mike Richards

McNulty

Is one of the most repellent politicians out there right now. He has one style - bullying and hectoring. Watch him on Newsnight or Question Time, he rants when he's spoken to and sits there muttering and interrupting other contributors.

And his huge experience of security, let's see - degree in politics, postgrad degree in politics, then went on to be a councillor, then an MP.

He was a nasty piece of shit at the Home Office, he is a nasty piece of shit in his current role and he will continue to be one into the future.

Currently sitting on a 4,000 odd majority, so if there is any justice in the World we'll soon be seeing the back of him.

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Sub-prang panic: Calm down, it happens all the time

Mike Richards

French nukes

The French actually have three missile submarines, Le Triomphant, Téméraire and Vigilant. A fourth, Terrible, is under construction.

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Scots and pilots brace against ID cards

Mike Richards

@ Eponymous Cowherd

Sadly the government's response to Stella Rimmington is all too predictable:

'Dame Stella is entitled to her opinion, but it is worth repeating that Parliament has repeatedly expressed its desire to uphold the government's manifesto commitment to the introduction of biometric identity cards.

'Since Dame Stella's tenure in the security services, the situation has changed dramatically and the government has had to adapt new strategies to deal with - no you must let me finish - we have secret evidence of illegal immigrant Taliban pilots who want to upload our childrens' copyright-free naughty bits on to the Interweb...'

After that Hazel Blears' eyes will start spinning and you'll doze off into a nice sleep.

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Boffins ponder Geordies' lack of winter clothing

Mike Richards

Not just Newcastle

You see teenagers wearing next to nothing on the wintery streets of Scandinavian cities; but the frost / snow / rain / hail (usually at the same time) quickly cull them, so surviving adults walk around dressed properly in dead animals.

Reykjavik has heated pavements - which when you think about it shows a great deal of consideration for the drunks.

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Navy glovepuppets minister in carrier battle against RAF

Mike Richards

Replacing RAF Harriers

Ummmm.... correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't the RAF flying Harriers on combat missions in Afghanistan? If they want them replaced, the only other plane they've got is the ground-support Tornado which is a: crap, and b: has a turning circle slightly larger than a mountain pass.

Is the RAF actually saying they don't want to fly planes and wants to spend their billions on moustache wax and boot polish? If so, let's close the flyboys down and spend the money on buying Bolivia.

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Info chief slaps Met on CCTV in pubs

Mike Richards

Best bit in the Guardian article

'Gibson spoke to his MP, Emily Thornberry, whose offices are on the same street. But she said the right of residents not to become victims of crime overrode his concerns. "My priority is the safety of local residents and if a camera at the pub helps, then I think it should be supported."'

From Wikipedia: 'Thornberry was educated at the University of Kent at Canterbury where she studied law, and practised as a barrister specialising in human rights from 1985 to 2005'

On the evidence so far, I don't think she was very good at being a human rights lawyer.

The good news is that the android MP for Islington South and Finsbury is sitting on a majority of only 484.

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Hydrogen motoring too heavy for pundit

Mike Richards

One advantage of hydrogen

Is the time it takes to refuel. Because it's a liquid, refuelling times aren't much more than with good old-fashioned gasoline. Recharging a Tesla is an all-night affair. Now if super and ultra capicitors become a commercial reality perhaps that will change, but until then, hydrogen cars fit our needs better than electric.

But perhaps methanol is the best fuel for the interim - it's liquid, it doesn't need new engines, it can be made from fossil fuels and it has a fabulous octane rating.

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Pilots boycott gov ID cards

Mike Richards

@ bbuckle

'Haven't you heard? Apparently she is constantly accosted by people in the street demanding she speed up the introduction of ID cards.'

Is that the street in London where she has her 'main home', or the street in Redditch where she keeps the hubbie and kids?

Home Office 'Building an Orwellian Society, One Step at a Time' Press release (issue date July 2010).

Further evidence of the effectiveness of identity cards was released today. Following the successful roll-out of identity cards to British pilots, there have been no recorded instances of airline pilots committing acts of terror.

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Brit, French nuke subs collide - fail to 'see' each other

Mike Richards
Joke

Couldn't they...

...have a lookout?

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