* Posts by Mike Richards

3603 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

US air force inks 'tactical' space-war deal

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'So the real gig is to slide up next to it and covertly disable it somehow. You could spray stuff on its solar cells, you could bend or snip antennas, etc. and hopefully make it look like standard random failures and debris impacts.'

The Soviet Union tried something like this from 1967 with a series of tests by Kosmos satellites which sidled up close to other satellites and then - ummm - exploded - so 9 out of 10 for effort, 2 out fo 10 for covertness.

The program was declared a success and was said to be operational from 1971 until 1987 when it was going to be replaced by a mysterious program called Polyus. Only one Polyus launch was attempted but rather than reach orbit it ended up in the South Pacific - that had lasers, presumably it now has sharks AND lasers.

And it was huge: http://www.astronautix.com/craft/polyus.htm

(Is it just me being of a certain age, but doesn't that erector look like something Gerry Anderson would have come up with?)

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Orange ditches Phorm

Mike Richards

BT Phorm Trials

Remember them? Has anyone here know of a BT customer who got roped into the trials?

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Mandelson's dept mulls UK internet power grab

Mike Richards

Can't kick the habit...

Looks like New Labour have become nationalisation junkies and are busy looking for things they can take into 'public' ownership without upsetting their gazillionaire friends and donors.

Brown's lot are getting like the Attlee government - albeit without the competence, decency, intelligence, sense of purpose or flat caps.

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E-voting fears run high as election day looms

Mike Richards

Not a very good conspiracy

Let's get the paranoia out of the way first. This doesn't sound like a fraud to me - after all if you wanted to rig an election, would you let the voter know that you were doing it?

It sounds more like an HCI issue. Without seeing the machines it's hard to say what could be going wrong, but I'm going to guess... if these are touch screen machines either they've never been calibrated or the calibration has drifted so much that presses are being misregistered. Alternatively it it is an ATM style machine with hardware buttons, it's possible the layout of the on-screen ballot is just lousy.

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MoD pledges greener buying

Mike Richards

Love it!

A sustainable development policy for an organisation that's going to be buying more hydrogen bombs.

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Home Office acts to kick out Iceland's hate preachers

Mike Richards

Bloody Scandinavians

Coming over here raising uproar about their progressive social policies, high standards of literacy and education and preaching tolerance. Mind you, with the Icelandic economy officially titsup.com, have they thought about recapitalising their banks the old-fashioned Viking way?

Oh and just to remind Jacqui: Íslendingar eru ekki hryðjuverkamenn.

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Financial meltdown hits Hilton where it hurts

Mike Richards

One for the physics boffins

'Well, it remains to be seen if Paris can survive on a paltry £25,000 or so a month, but if she does have trouble paying the rent we suggest she moves in with her new chum Katie Price, aka Jordan, who was recently spotted with our fave celebutard.'

If you keep adding micro-celebrities together, do they eventually reach some critical mass beyond which they coalesce into someone we might just care about?

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BBC's TV detector vans to remain a state secret

Mike Richards

@ Damn Yank

'You have to pay a license fee for over-the-air television??'

It's a small price to avoid being told to ask your doctor about irritable bowels which appears to be the only way American TV is funded these days.

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NASA's greatest clanger

Mike Richards

@ Tom Paine

'Things were fabulous in 1973, kids today have no idea. We only had to work three days a week, you know. Worker's paradise, it was...'

And it's back!

In 1973, we had an unpopular government, nationalisation, a run on the banks, collapsing house prices, rising unemployment, an economy in the crapper, energy supply problems and to top it all we were busy losing a war with Iceland.

Now all we need is Jon Pertwee back as the Doctor.

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Oprah cuddles Kindle

Mike Richards

'Does no-one go to libraries anymore'

Ever since libraries became Internet cafes cum social centres cum kindergartens the number of books they stock has plummeted and been reduced to a selection ranging from 'Blood! Action! Death!' (the anonymised recollections of someone who may or may not have been in the SAS), to 'Look at Me! Look at Me!' (the autobiography of an 18-year old tattooed oik who lasted all the way to week 3 of 'Big Brother'), by way of 'Kiss Me You Fool' (romantic fiction for ladies of advanced years in which nothing more erotic than a cardigan is removed, and even then without teeth being involved - either in the romancing or indeed in the audience).

So if you want a book that, ooooh I dunno, involves thinking, you have to order a title which takes anything from a week to year before you get the inevitable, 'Sorry our only copy got eaten by a badger during the construction of a bypass.'

About time they put books back in libraries and developed a new generation of librarians (possibly even robot libraries with death rays) that know when to say Shhh! and fix people with a petrifying glare over half-moon spectacles.

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'Magnetic Death Star' fragments unearthed in New Jersey

Mike Richards

Never wanting to doubt the mighty Register

But are you *sure* the Caltech boffins mentioned superpowers in their paper?

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Gov approval given for Saudi Eurofighter sale

Mike Richards

Of course the US approved it...

...because now Israel will demand the latest gee-whizz hardware from American companies to tackle the new Saudi threat.

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Putin's dog gets satnav tracker collar

Mike Richards

Hold on...

''but Moscow is probably more interested in military operations and the guidance systems of missiles.''

They're putting labradors into missiles? The bastards.

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Designer touts 'super sight' sunglasses

Mike Richards

Impressive

Especially if it could expand certain cyclists' vision to tell them when they're cycling on the pavement.

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Thrust SSC team to build 1000 mph 'Bloodhound' car

Mike Richards

Fantastic sense of priorities here

Only a few weeks ago the government said that the expensively useless practice of strapping someone in a tin can and firing it straight up will encourage children to take an interest in science and technology; now the expensively useless practice of strapping someone in a tin can and firing it sideways will encourage kids to take an interest in science and technology.

Because obviously no one could be interested in dinosaurs, volcanoes, explosions and radiation just because they're awesome could they????

The only important question these pork barrel projects can answer is - 'What is the effect on science and technology education when the men in spaulas arrive to scrape the test subject into a bucket?'

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Bank of England prescribes 'boredom'

Mike Richards

On the upside...

The Pound is still stronger than the Icelandic Krona.

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India's Moon shot takes to the skies

Mike Richards

Re: photographic Apollo sites

The camera on Chandrayaan-1 has a minimum resolution of 5m - really amazing for a geological survey - but not quite enough to pick out details Apollo LM lower stages and the Moon Rovers left by the America. It *MAY* be enough to show SOMETHING is there, especially if they can photograph one of the landing sites in favourable lighting conditions when the American kit is all a twinkle, but don't get to hopeful of seeing Richard Nixon's lunar signature any time soon.

Your best hope is next year's Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter (LRO) due to blast off from Kennedy late next April. It has a stunning 0.5m resolution, easily capable of resolving the landing sites and it is planned to make several passes over each of the Apollo sites.

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Top prosecutor warns against growing state power

Mike Richards

Home Office consultation, New Labour style

'We asked a representative panel of intellectuals comprised of David Aaronovitch, Nick Cohen, Jon Gaunt, Melanie Phillips and Gary Bushell under the prestigious chairmanship of Kelvin McKenzie to discuss their opinion of government proposals.'

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Amazon UK downplays Kindle Christmas

Mike Richards

Dumb quote

Kindle will work just fine on the beach, it has 180Mb of online storage and has an SD card. You just won't be able to get the downloads over EVDO.

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BBC clarifies location of England

Mike Richards

Further help for the still confused

Shouldn't it also have an arrow pointing left to show where Wales is relative to America? And one sort of north, north west to show the all important geographic Cambrian relationship to Iceland. Not to mention one pointing sort of south so I can locate Wales' position from Tristan da Cunha.

Bloody dumbing down of the BBC...

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UK puts £55m into disabled parking reform

Mike Richards

Easier solution

Bring back those weird pale blue 2mph 'Invalid Carriages' that used to potter round in the 1960s and 70s*.

Under my new policy, if you wanted a disabled badge you'd have to use one of those. The new policy would be like Biblical feel-good story; with the prospect of being forced to use an Invalid Carriage, tens of thousands of drivers all across Britain would be mysteriously healed of their crippling (but strangely unidentifiable) diseases and be free to continue driving sportscars and SUVs.

* For youngsters, they were something like the GWizz (favoured by slebs in London) but without the social stigma.

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UK.gov says: Regulate the internet

Mike Richards

Outsourcing...

Why doesn't the UK government save a shed-load of money by simply outsourcing Internet policing to the People's Republic of China?

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Invest in Britain, it's fingerprinting good

Mike Richards

Entertainer visas will be easier to get

So our best defence against terror is the hope that Osama bin Laden can't get his comic exploding dog act booked for the panto season in Margate.

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HP-EDS combo makes General Motors 'uncomfortable'

Mike Richards

Blimey

GM were in the economic crapper before HP got their hands on EDS. With them on board it'll be like the captain of the Titanic deciding to take another swing at the iceberg because they didn't quite hit it last time.

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NASA's nuclear Mars tank is go

Mike Richards

One drawback with nuclear

Is that the total amount of power that can be got from the RTG is strictly limited, it's highly unlikely this rover's mission can be extended time and time again like the current pair.

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Das überdatabase: Inside Wacky Jacqui's motherbrain

Mike Richards

Lucky TOR is free

'Cos if they charged, they could make a fortune from everyone with a tiny bit of sense deciding this government is the scariest thing in Britain since Oswald Mosley decided that black really was his colour.

Geoff Hoon is on TV right now saying he's prepared to go 'quite a long way actually' to undermine civil liberties (yep, he said that); and:

'If they are going to use the internet to communicate with each other and we don't have the power to deal with that, then you are giving a licence to terrorists to kill people.'

Won't be long before we're all called traitors.

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Hubble's 486 back-up springs into life

Mike Richards

@ greg

'What's the point in resilliency testing a system in space? It's sored in a cold vacuum, and can't gather dust or anything else that might cause damage.'

The temperature of space is not the most important factor; Hubble's orbit takes into the Earth's shadow and into direct sunlight so it is exposed to extremes of about -160C to 200C on a regular basis.

There are also resiliency tests needed to see how the hardware copes with the highly reactive monatomic oxygen you find around the Earth and for energetic particles trapped in the Earth's magnetic field, especially in places like the South Atlantic Anomaly where the Van Allen Belts come close to the Earth's surface.

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'U-turn' West: MI5 watching 'great' terror plot right now

Mike Richards

Home Office lost 42 days

But they can't wait to be in a position to tell us 'look what happens when you don't trust the government'.

And you can be sure Jacqui Smith and her acolytes won't be satisfied with a mere 42 days detention if there is (imaginary bearded bloke forbid) another terrorist attack in the UK.

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Jacqui Smith trails überdatabase plans

Mike Richards

Hmmmm

So social networking and gaming companies will be obliged to store and hand over data when the government asks for it.

But only those based in Britain.

That'll be Faceboo - oh no, ummm MySpace - errr maybe not, World of War - ahhhhh.

Looks like a bad day for Bebo then.

And after last week's example of how anti-terror legislation allows the government to seize foreign companies' assets in the UK, you'd have thought New Labour wouldn't be trying to further show why not to invest in the UK.

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Alien crustaceans clash claws in UK waterways

Mike Richards
Thumb Up

oh my!

Alien lobsters versus oriental crabs in our rivers?

Tell me this isn't the very definition of Saturday night family entertainment?

It'd be like Robowars in chitinaceous exoskeletons with the added attraction that it'd appeal to a fast food promotional tie-in; 'You've seen the show! Now eat the stars coated in delicious crispy batter!'

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Seagoing slime-skimmer snail ships punted

Mike Richards

A slime-dripping American invention?

Has to be called the USS Karl Rove.

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Blackswift hypersonic plane cancelled

Mike Richards

Not necessarily cancelled

Couldn't it come back from the dead as a zombie hypersonic plane funded by the 'black' budget?

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Channel 4 in Heathrow Playmobil reconstruction shocker

Mike Richards

Guys, guys, guys - think of the licensing possibilities

Since Channel 4 are clearly big Reg fans, its time for a full make-over. No more Davina - instead the lovely Asus lady will front (and what a front) all life-style programming. Phil and Kirstie will be replaced by Optimus Prime, Paris becomes the station's international correspondent, and Lester and a Devil Dog can host the evening news programme - politicians answer the questions or have their faces torn off (repeated later on More 4 + Pi).

Let's do lunch and I'm in it for 10%. Call me11

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US military: Electropulse bombs now from next year

Mike Richards

Easier solution

Judging by the number of stories like this:

http://www.kxly.com/global/story.asp?s=9145810

it'd just be easier to carpet bomb the enemy with squirrels and let the vermin scamper happily into the nearest electrical substation. Result - lights go out AND fewer arborial rats.

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Brussels bounces BT-Phorm quiz back to UK.gov

Mike Richards

Webwise trials?

Has anyone been invited, or know ANYONE who's been asked to join the lastest Phormulaic trials?

Or are they solely targetting the type of people who used to get excited over AOL disks coming through the letterbox?

Mike.

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MEPs vote to recognise flag, anthem, motto

Mike Richards

@ Steven Knox

'a flag with stars representing the founding members '

Ummm no it doesn't. There were six founding members of the EEC - Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

Instead, the flag is derived from the flag of the Council of Europe and has twelve stars because the number twelve has no political significance, is commonly found in European heritage and myth, and twelve stars were considered especially attractive when laid out in a circle.

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Martin Sheen backs Paris for president

Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward (re: age)

The minimum age is 35 (Constitution of the United States, Article 2, Section 1).

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Bebo users release interstellar spamgasm at Gliese 581

Mike Richards

Better approach...

...would be to fire Bebo users at Gliese 581.

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Messenger delivers more Mercury postcards

Mike Richards

@Gordon Barret

Mercury does get VERY hot in the midday Sun, but it also gets VERY cold in the middle of the night. There's no atmosphere to balance temperatures, so the range is extraordinary.

Mercury also has probably not had any significant tectonic activity for a few billion years. It's a small planet so it has a high surface to volume ratio and radiated its internal store of heat into space a long time ago. There's some conflicting evidence whether any of Mercury's interior is molten or in a plastic condition, but if it ever had plate tectonics they grated to a halt in the early days of the Solar System.

With no tectonics and no atmosphere, Mercury's surface preserves features for millions, if not billions of years. Many of these craters are probably a similar age to those on the Moon and date from around 4 billion years ago. The very bright craters are relatively recent - say in the last billion years; they're bright because of the freshly-broken ejected material splashed over the surrounding terrain. They're gradually eroded by micrometeorite bombardment and the impact of solar particles.

Now what would be interesting is if we found ANY signs of recent vulcanism. Many experienced telescopic observers have seen temporary patches of brightness and light on the Moon which have been called transient lunar phenomena and might be dust or gas erupting from the deep interior. Mercury, being more massive, should be hotter inside and might even have patches of molten material finding their way to the surface.

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Indian Moon mission is go for 22 October

Mike Richards

Imaging the Apollo sites

Chandrayaan has a minimum 5m resolution so it's *possible* it can resolve the lower stages of the LMs which were left on the Moon - if not pick out any details. With favourable lighting it might even be able to image the Lunar Rovers.

If you can wait until 2009, NASA's Lunar Reconnaisance Orbiter will carry a 0.5m resolution camera into lunar orbit *AND* it'll watch a spent booster crash into the surface - now that's what I call value for money.

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No mile-high pr0n for Delta passengers

Mike Richards

Wrong! How to avoid Chapter 11

Delta should offer a basic fare sans smut, but heavily promote an upgrade package for filth a la carte at 40,000 ft. If just half a cabin opt to pay a little more for stratospheric spanking on the back of the seat in front of them, Delta could remain profitable even if oil prices were to rise again.

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DARPA seeks Special Forces submersible aeroplane

Mike Richards

Gerry Anderson shows us the future

'UFO' had SkyDiver (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SkyDiver) - a giant nuclear powered superfast submarine which launched a fighter aircraft.

More importantly it also had Gabrielle Drake in a very tight silver outfit...

Mmmm... where am I again?

Oh yes, splendid idea from DARPA, I shall buy string vest futures immediately.

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Captain Cyborg to chew the fat with Ultra Hal

Mike Richards

Can aManFromMars get to Reading University next Sunday?

I want to see what happens when he engages in a conversation with Professor Reading of Warwick.

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Asus Eee PC 1000 10in Linux netbook

Mike Richards

Biggest problem with the Asus...

...there's no easy way of keeping software up-to-date without getting under the hood. Asus offer an updater for some utilities (but it's been a while since that's had anything new on it), but stuff like Firefox which is shipped with the machine, can't be updated without resorting to the command line. Okay, most of the people here won't worry about that; but just try explaining sudo to a Public used to clicking one on-screen button and being told what to do.

And this is a real problem, unless updating is going to be made as simple as on more familiar OSs, there will be plenty of unpatched machines going around. And that can't be good.

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Stick health warnings on gays, says Stock Exchange chaplain

Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward 'Prove It'

The Bible bashers usually point to the sheer eviltude of being a friend of Dorothy being in that laugh-a-minute bit of scripture Leviticus 18:22 'You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; such thing is an abomination.'

Being the only book anyone should ever need, the Book then goes on to provide a handy pull-out-and-keep list of punishments worthy of David Blunkett; namely death.

Rational people point out the same punishment is ordered for sinners who eat prawn crackers.

Leviticus got the contempt it deserves here:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=rHaVUjjH3EI

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Mike Richards

"He's a great leader and doesn't cloud his views in political correctness."

Ah, an old-fashioned bigot!

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Miliband the Younger becomes Green Energy minister

Mike Richards

'Meteoric'

Isn't that an object that plummets from a great height at great speed producing lots of sound and light but leaving nothing behind? Possibly the best description ever made of a New Labour Apparachik.

BTW. WTF is 'the Office of the Third Sector'? It sounds like something from a low-budget science fiction movie in which Jean Claude van Damme stands up to an Orwellian future by kicking lots of people very hard.

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Sony revamps e-book Reader with reading lamp

Mike Richards

Damn - I was hoping for a wireless link

I love my 505, but it is very much a tethered device that requires a PC to get new material. A wireless link - WiFi or cellular would turn the Reader into a truly stand-alone device and let people pick up new books no matter where they were - see an advert for a book or magazine, see an author interviewed - click a button, go get it.

Kindle is oh-so-close to being the perfect implementation of an eBook reader, but it looks like something put together by a junior craft class and it's tied to a non-standard EVDO network which prevents it from selling outside the US.

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Postman Pat goes postal

Mike Richards

@Naich

LOL!

He should also have a nasty habit of discarding red elastic bands along every street.

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Phorm losses shoot up by half

Mike Richards

Anyone been able to leave BT whilst still in contract?

Simple question.

BT normally charge you the remainder of your contract fees and the price of the router if you choose to leave their delightful company before your contract expires. Has anyone here been able to escape without charge before their contract ended by claiming that Phorm, Webwise and the changes to the T&Cs have invalidated the original contract?

I know lots of people say do it, they won't chase you, but has anyone got away with it?

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