* Posts by Mike Richards

3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

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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Mike Richards

@ Chris Simmons

Some are here:

http://badphorm.co.uk/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewforum.php?21

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Mike Richards

Any other BT Broadband people with flaky connections since yesterday?

Okay my BT connection* is slow, but it is pretty reliable. But since last night it has been falling over slightly more than a Reg journo coming back from a trade show. Websites timing out, URLs not being resolved, online gaming connections failing repeatedly.

Coincidence? Or has anyone else seen crapola performance since the Phorm trial allegedly started?

* Serving time until my contract ends or until I can summon the energy to do battle for hours on end with BT Total Broadband's appalling customer service and tell them I no longer feel bound by their unilaterally revised contract.

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Microsoft's Hotmail hybrid struggles to life

Mike Richards

Is anyone real still using Hotmail?

I assumed it had long since been lost to the spammers.

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BT's third Phorm trial starts tomorrow

Mike Richards

No sign of Phorm here

Though if any Reg reader does get the invitation of a lifetime, the lovely folks at SpyBlog would love to know more about how the system works and you could help:

http://spyblog.org.uk/

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Mike Richards

@Anony mouse

Thanks for the changes to the contract.

Since I haven't seen a BT contract since last year and I certainly haven't agreed to anything since then, I assume I'm still bound by the old T&C.

In which case, it's time to say 'bye bye BT'.

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Slimline Xbox 360 due in December?

Mike Richards

Strange timing...

...to announce a new product when the main Christmas shopping spree is in full flood.

If this thing is for real. it'll be interesting to see how they propose to support the hard disk which fits neatly on the side of the current machine and is not standard on all 360s. One way would be to make hard disks standard on all slimline 360s and gradually run down supplies of the older drives. Then to offer the newer drives with an adaptor allowing them to clip to the fatter older 360s.

Though knowing Microsoft they'll just keep two different lines of drives and gouge for each one.

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Hubble transmissions cease as computer fails

Mike Richards

Technical support enquiry

'Before we can continue, can you read me your serial number? It should be on the underside of your space telescope.'

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China wins, Symbian loses in Sony Ericsson reorg

Mike Richards

Excellent

Until now Sony Ericsson interfaces might have well been written in Chinese for all the sense they make - now they will be!

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Reg competition: Cisco goes isup

Mike Richards

Perhaps

The 't's have been outsourced to EDS and are running behind schedule?

Mind you when they come they'll probably turn out to be a consignment of unwanted 'å's.

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Iridium flares for another $500m

Mike Richards

@ Ralph B

The Iridium satellites are going to be up there a while yet; the only lifetimes I've seen quoted on them were the service lifetimes which were originally six to seven years. However, Iridium have extended the lifetimes as the satellites have been more reliable than expected. They have some spares in orbit and on the ground so can still provide a service even if one or more satellites dies. I think they've lost a couple already, but I'm not sure if they were DOA or died in service.

Iridium was a great idea, but like everything else from Motorola, the product sucked.

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Frenchman's pedalo dirigible Channel attempt blown out

Mike Richards

He needs...

...DARPA money!

It's insane, It's dangerous, It's pointless, It's going to end horribly, and most of all - it doesn't work.

So why oh why oh why haven't the Free World's favourite big brain brigade been in touch to design a pedal-powered blimp so that America's special forces and thought-controlled pet cyborg moths can fight terror?

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Chrysler grows iPod Peapod

Mike Richards

One thought?

Can you extend the range if you power it from the iPod?

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Mike Richards

Alternative?

For these tiny town cars, would a flywheel drive make more sense than heavy batteries? Plug in, spin up the flywheel, unplug, tootle off down to Harvey Nicks.

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Virgin Galactic spaceliner-piggyback craft delayed

Mike Richards

@Rob

'Don't NASA or the AirForce have a plane that does this already for training purposes,'

They use an old McDonnell Douglas C9 (the military version of the DC9), nick-named 'The Vomit Comet' to fly parabolic paths at relatively low altitude. Branson's latest publicity machine will go a bit faster and hit 100km which technically puts it into space - albeit not at orbital velocity.

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Elon Musk's Falcon 1 launches successfully

Mike Richards

@ Matthew

'Is there any new technology involved or this just news because it is privately funded?'

No technological breakthroughs, but new designs for engines and pumps. This is the first time a rocket has been designed by a private company without huge injections of government money, so that's new.

It will be significant if they can design a reusable liquid-fuelled first stage. These have been really troublesome because they need lots of delicate turbo-pumps and miles of plumbing which can be easily damaged when they come back to Earth. NASA scrapped reusable boosters on the Shuttle in favour of simpler, more robust SRBs - and we know how that ended up. The Soviet Union developed reusable boosters for its Energia monster rocket, but I don't think they ever got reused after the two Energia launches.

So if they can get their technology to work, they'll be able to rival the cheap Soyuz system and the Chinese Long March - which will please Western satellite companies looking to put loads into orbit without paying through the nose and without giving away their technology. Arianespace could be the big loser here as they currently only have the big Ariane V rocket. They're planning on offering Soyuz launches out of French Guyana in the near future - getting the Earth's spin to give that some extra kick compared to launching from Kazakhstan; but they're also building a small solid-fuelled booster called Vega which is due next year.

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Elgato EyeTV DTT Deluxe 'world's smallest' USB TV tuner

Mike Richards

Excellent!

I like this!

Ever since TiVo left the UK, the default PVR has been the horrible, buggy, crashy, retarded Sky+, but it looks like EyeTV could be the replacement for my TiVo.

Unless TiVo actually decide to start - oooh I dunno - selling their product?

Either Elgato or AppleTV with TiVo software? Unbeatable!

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Phorm mulls incentives for ad targeting wiretaps

Mike Richards

Hmmm

> An upgrade to a faster broadband package at no extra cost

Still capped and throttled.

> £1 off monthly broadband bills

Your generosity astounds me.

> £1 cashback per month

No cut-price store will be safe!

> A cut of advertising revenues

Shrivelling up even as we speak thanks to Wall Street.

> A free premium technical support line

Who will still ask Mac users to click the Start button at the bottom of the screen.

> Free music download vouchers

Torrentastic!

> Free anti-virus software

Got a Mac, and isn't AVG still free?

> Parental content controls

I gave up trying to control my parents long ago.

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'I can see dinosaurs from my back porch'

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward re: Theory and Hypothesis

'ID remains a hypothesis. (an idea without data or observation to support it).'

Actually it's not a hypothesis as there is no way of testing ID.

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Daily Mail hacks get emergency bird flu jabs

Mike Richards

Fantastic news!

With this sort of antiviral protection, journos at the Mail will be able to report on collapsing house prices and engage in a monarchic mournathon right up to the moment of the death rattle of human civilisation.

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PM Brown dusts off one interweb per child plan (again)

Mike Richards

Free broadband

Just so long as the little dears accept Phorm into their lives.

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Net Suicide Bill would breathe life into government censorship

Mike Richards

Why not just buy censoring software from China?

We buy everything else there and New Labour should get along famously with the Beijing Politburo.

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LHC downed until after Xmas - Boo

Mike Richards

Okay Lewis...

...perhaps it's time to switch to decaff?

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Labour minister says 14 year olds should get ID cards

Mike Richards

@ Ken Hagan

'Nail those responsible for maladministration and surcharge them.'

Sadly Parliament considers itself above such things as the law and ministers are not liable to surcharging. Yep, your local councillor can be surcharged for the most trivial purpose, but a government which mismanages billions can simply laugh at us.

Worse still, don't expect the next lot to be any better; I can't imagine ANY government of ANY colour changing the law to weaken its own powers.

You can't even get individual ministers under the Human Rights Act, only the government as a whole - and you end up footing the bill even if you win.

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Marketing body condemns 'draconian' Olympic law

Mike Richards

No 2012?

Microsoft's marketing department is going to be screwed.

This law is ludicrous - gold, silver and bronze are widely used words in advertising, think of all the 'gold' cards out there, or 'gold' service plans and support schemes. Are the banks going to stop offering gold credit cards, or will we all be automatically upgraded to platinum?

This is a laughably bad piece of legislation, but pretty much typical of the ever-increasing number of laws Parliament churns out without ever thinking through.

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Met Office: Global warming sceptics 'have heads in sand'

Mike Richards

@Anonymous John

'So? The thermometer was invented during the Little Ice Age. We've no record of temperatures in the Medieval Warm Period.'

Absolutely correct - apart from the evidence obtained from pollen, varves, ice cores, oxygen isotopes, insect remains, soils, crop residues...

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Has the war on terror scored a virtual victory?

Mike Richards

'Amateur spooks put willies up Al-Qaeda'

I'm pretty sure that sort of thing is what's got Al-Qaeda so upset in the first place.

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UK.gov IDs identity vendors

Mike Richards

EDS!

Yes, oh yes!

With those three letters we know the project is surely doomed.

And nice to see IBM finally living up to its image in the original Apple Mac ad.

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Gov seeks UK nuclear competition for EDF

Mike Richards

Uh oh

One of the problems with the original British programme was that costs were made much higher by our inability to roll out a programme of building identical reactors sharing common technology; rather we kept 'improving' them so each one was practically a bespoke piece of engineering.

Would it be too much to expect the government to order the companies building our new plants to insist on a common design?

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Miracle airship tech sustained by DARPA pork trickle

Mike Richards

Another solution

Which was proposed for the original Hindenberg when that was going to be inflated with helium following the R101 design.

There would be two sets of gas bags, large doughnut shaped ones containing the helium lifting gas, and smaller cylindrical bags embedded in the helium bags containing hydrogen 'anti-ballast'. As the airship burned fuel it would become lighter. Cheap hydrogen would be vented from the bags, reducing lift and returning the vessel to trim.

The plan was abandoned when the US refused to sell helium to Nazi Germany and the Hindenberg was redesigned as a cheaper hydrogen ship.

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What's the cost of global warming?

This post has been deleted by a moderator

Mitsubishi electric car to get Iceland test run in 2009

Mike Richards

£1.68 for a cup of coffee

Sounds like a bargain compared to most of London.

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Apple fans besieged by iPhone Trojan and iTunes attack

Mike Richards

'...creates an opportunity to crash browser applications'

Safari needs help to crash regularly?

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Democratic rep fathered alleged Palin hacker

Mike Richards

Surprised she uses a computer

After all it was invented after the 13th Century and doesn't get a mention in Leviticus.

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ePassport tests put biometrics through their paces

Mike Richards

This is fantastic news - for passport companies

If they keep changing the biometrics every couple of years, they'll soon get into the IT mindset of forcing you to upgrade your passport regularly or be deemed a security risk and be doomed to stay in this crappy country.

'Sorry luv, you're passport's only the Wombat Edition with facial, fingerprint, retina and earlobe analysis. We're only allowing Bushbaby Xtreme with arse-reading on the plane today. Good news though, we're offering a special upgrade price of just £500 and a free cavity search.'

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500,000 oppose Red Arrows Olympic ban

Mike Richards

Red Arrows planes

How old are they now? Won't every other country in the World just piss themselves laughing that we'd be flying such relics?

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No uranium for Russia, say Oz MPs

Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward - Non-proliferation treaty

Building mini-nukes does not violate the NNPT.

The US is still within the treaty - just. So far the US and the other declared nuclear powers have not abided by the Second Pillar of the NNPT to work towards final multilateral disarmament.

The US is arguably in violation of Articles I and II of the NNPT by continuing to deploy nuclear weapons in non-nuclear NATO countries and modifying these countries weapons systems to use nuclear weapons. There is also a question over the US's sharing of weapons designs and materials such as tritium with the UK and French weapons programmes. The UK may have violated it in the past by supplying the UK with plutonium diverted from our civilian reprocessing plant.

All of the original three signatories - the US, USSR (whose responsibilities were assumed by Russia) and UK have probably been in violation of public statements not to target non-nuclear states with nuclear weapons. The US certainly targeted North Korea, Russia has recently threatened to target Poland and the UK has said it will nuke anyone who uses WMD on British citizens. This is not a violation of the NNPT per-se as the statements were made outside of the treaty.

On another front the Bush administration has recently signed a civilian nuclear technology transfer with India which is not a signatory to the NNPT. It was agreed that India had not proliferated weapons knowledge and was in desperate need of nuclear energy so an exemption was made in the NNPT by the IAEA to allow the treaty to go through. IIRC it has still not been ratified by Congress, so it's possible the situation might change.

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Chrysler plans electric car production model

Mike Richards

Ooooh I take back everything I said about the Chevvy Volt

This really is ugly. It's like a chromed banana-flavoured rollerskate.

Whatever happened to the Chrysler designers who came up with cars like Batman's weekend getaway car - the Atlantic concept?

http://www.kudzumonthly.com/kudzu/jan03/Atlantic.html

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Media standard backers attempt Apple-less solo run

Mike Richards

Ahem!

"DECE is taking the lessons learned from the successful 'buy once, play anywhere' experience that we enjoy with CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray..."

That'd be region-coded, copy-protected DVD and Blu-ray 'buy once, play anywhere' experience then?

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