* Posts by Mike Richards

3595 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

DR Congo minister liberates imprisoned goats

Mike Richards

Anyone know...

...if the Home Office has made 'being sold illegally' a crime in the UK yet?

If not, they really need get a law on the statute book ASAP to continue New Labour's highly successful new-crime-a-day legislationathon; whose previous hits include 'no illegal egg inspections', 'don't set off a nuclear explosion' and 'it's wrong to sell a grey squirrel don't you know?'. Those jails won't fill themselves up you know.

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Amazon flash mob mauls Spore DRM

Mike Richards

Any advance on three tries? Oh hello Sony!

The Sony/Waterstones eBook store for the Sony PRS Reader allows you to download a title precisely ONCE. All titles are locking into the horrible Adobe Digital Edition software which makes no allowance for backing titles up on to CD or external disk. If your machine dies, ADE goes tits-up or you upgrade to a new machine you've had it.

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Today is not Hadron Collider Day

Mike Richards

Everything I know about particle physics I learned in Marvel Comics

Can any Reg-reading particle physicists who might be taking a break from releasing Lovecraftian horrors into this dimension answer this question honestly?

'Do you ever get an overwhelming urge to stand in front of the beam in the hope of getting super powers?'

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Sony e-book reader to debut in UK tomorrow

Mike Richards

Great hardware - oh my god who designed the DRM???

Only works with Windows - bad. But the people at Waterstones should be shot for their DRM policy.

You are allowed to download a title ONCE. After that the DRM kicks in to say the title has already been downloaded and you can't have it again. No matter if the download is corrupt or if your newly DRMed book refuses to open on the Reader. You can't have another copy.

And when you have your book, it's folded into the horrific Adobe Digital Edition plugin for Flash so you can't back it up in the event of a hard disk crash or a move to a new machine.

This is simply not acceptable. I've never used a download service with so many restrictions.

But I have to repeat, the Reader itself is a stunning piece of technology.

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Police quiz BT on secret Phorm trials

Mike Richards

Down, down, down

Looks like Phorm is now trading at around 1/6 of their market peak back when they announced their tie-up with the big three ISPs. It's getting tempting to take out a ruler, draw a straight line through a plot of their share price and work out when their share price will reach zero:

http://www.iii.co.uk/investment/detail%3Fcode%3Dcotn:PHRM.L&it%3Dle

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DNA database costs soar

Mike Richards

Easy, spin our way out of this

When the BBC got a lot of flak for the price of the TV licence they resorted to a slightly desperate campaign telling you how much it worked out to on a daily basis.

It's time for the Home Office to do the same; now M&S have started using David Jason to do their voiceovers, I'm sure Dervla Kerwin is available:

'Do you know it costs less than 2 pence per day to store the data of a child on the government's database? Peace and security for just 2p? What else can you get for that?'

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ID scheme plans 50,000 cards by April

Mike Richards

Ahhh I'm being a silly bugger

Ahem, re point about about Northern Ireland not being in the United Kingdom. Ummmm yup, I'm wrong, it's not in Great Britain.

I'll go and hit myself over the head with an atlas now.

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Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward

geography fail said: "Your [sic] talking about England. The UK isn't connected to another landmass like the way you describe, either that or you have exceptionally long legs."

Er ... Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland?

It's worth taking this opportunity to point out that Northern Ireland isn't in the UK.

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Prototype orbital seaplane in Texan blimp-base blast

Mike Richards

Re: Anti Submarine Blimps in Texas?

The U-Boats specifically targeted tankers travelling from the Texan fields to join Atlantic convoys heading for the UK, although they did spend most of their time taking potshots at tankers off the Florida coast where they could be seen silhouetted against the lights of Miami. It was only much later in the war that Florida enacted a lights-out policy and deprived Floridans of the spectacle of going to the beach to watch ships explode.

After World War II blimps continued to be used by the US Navy as anti-submarine and anti-aircraft radar pickets. They were so big the radar could be fitted inside the envelope. And when I say big - I mean REALLY big:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:N_class_blimp.jpg

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IBM, PGP fill Bletchley Park's rattling tin

Mike Richards

@ Jon G @ Steve

BP did apply for a National Lottery grant a few years back but was turned down. They're making another application at the moment.

It's a real contrast to the case of the two Titians that have attracted publicity of late. Their owner wants to sell them and is willing to part with them and allow the pair to become part of the National collection for the trivial sum of £100 million, otherwise they'll go on the open market where they might go for £500 million.

Naturally the great and the good are lobbying furiously for the government, Lottery and uncle Tom Cobbly and All to stump up the money for a pair of paintings that have nothing to do with Britain apart from they ended up here after Johnny Frog got all choppity-chop with his betters.

As for Steve's comment about the luminous Phyllis Starkey MP's majority vanishing - I hope so, I hope so.

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Segway shock army to invade Department of Transport

Mike Richards

No problems with them or cyclists...

...just as long as insurance and number-plating is mandatory.

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Commodore launches little laptop

Mike Richards

If it's a Commodore

It'll be a notebook computer with a HUGE power brick that could warm a house - and a tape drive.

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Apple, O2 to release PAYG iPhones this month

Mike Richards

Reassuringly expensive

Looks like Apple are trying to make sure it doesn't become the sequel to the RAZR chavfone.

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Biometrics exhibit blushes over email snafu

Mike Richards

Not to worry

When the government's biometric fortress is in place it won't be managed by incompetents like Wellcome; it'll be run by organisations such as the Home Office, BT and Capita who have a long, consistent track record of managing personal data,.

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Erotic artist urges spanking for Jacqui Smith

Mike Richards

Can't imagine it without PlayMobil

The sight of Jack Straw and Jacqui Smith bound and gagged needs to be created in El Reg's favourite childrens' toy.

As for it being the most disturbing image possible - n'ah, just think of David Miliband lashed to Hazel Blears; cheek to cheek with only a small meringue between them - now THAT'S scary kinky!

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Blu Christmas coming, format fans forecast

Mike Richards

It's good - but is it *THAT* good?

In my experience, a Blu-ray played from a PS3 over HDMI to 1080p screen has lots of 'fizzing' in the picture like the grain in a poor photo - Sony's 'Casino Royale' is particularly ugly. The companies claim the transfers are good, the whole process is digital, so why are there artefacts that weren't present in the cinema and are missing from the DVD?

Throw in ridiculous prices - £30 in HMV and Zavvi and the region-coding from hell and THAT's why I'm not buying a whole lotta Blu-rays.

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Europe's Tesla will be first with full performance

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'I personally hope that the company goes bust, their patents expire and someone with half a brain, thats half more than anyone involed so far, reinvents the technology in a more pracital form.'

It's the same with any new technology; early adopters pay a premium, the manufacturers work out the kinks and the mass production companies make the money.

The real star of the next generation cars has to be the Chevvy Volt due in 2010; a plug-in hybrid (think of it as an electric car with a small petrol engine, rather than the Prius' big engine with a back-up battery). It's a practical family car, can be charged from the domestic supply and is designed so that most people on most journeys won't need to engage the engine.

http://gm-volt.com/

Pity it's so bloody ugly in that uniquely American chunkier-than-thou style. Hopefully one of GM's European marques will restyle it before we get to see it on the right-hand bank of the Atlantic.

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Tosh on top for laptop reliability

Mike Richards

No worries buying from John Lewis

The 2 year warranty as standard is fantastic, and 'never knowingly undersold' has come to my assistance on a number of occasions.

JL may not carry the range as the online specialists and they might not -quite- match the Pixmanias* of this world in price, but for sheer convenience and peace of mind, they're unbeatable.

* Speaking of whom - haven't they got a bit crap of late? What's this business with requiring copies of passport photos or driving licences before they will process an order???

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Dabs.com courier goes titsup

Mike Richards

Not wanting to dance on anyone's grave...

...but anyone fancy a knees-up at the Amtrak memorial?

Horrible company, practically uncontactable, parcels routinely delayed day after day because drivers didn't complete their rounds, goods damaged, dropped off at the wrong address or vanished.

Perhaps I can now start shopping again at some sites who used Amtrak to (not) deliver their goods.

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French train tickets go USB

Mike Richards

4Gb of memory?

Crickey, even First Great Western's 'bumper book of piss-poor excuses' wouldn't take up that much room!

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British boffins perfect process to make any item '100% waterproof'

Mike Richards

Better solution - lard

Simply coat everything in thick layers of pig fat. It's biodegradable, can be turned into diesel and it makes the flakiest pastry.

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McCain: Keep Shuttle flying, don't trust Russia

Mike Richards

Michoud

Any layoffs at Michoud would be temporary since it needed to build the upper stage of the Ares I rocket and the core of the Ares V booster - which is built around a new version of the Shuttle's external tank. The jogs and assembly lines would most likely be mothballed until the prototype Vs start rolling. So there's no reason why the plant couldn't be kept going if the Shuttle had to be used for a little longer.

The most pressing problem for the Shuttle fleet is that Atlantis' various pressure vessels used to store nitrogen and helium are life-expired and cannot be replaced within the current lifetime of the ships. NASA originally intended to cannibalise Atlantis to keep Discovery and Endeavour flying, but I see they've recently decided to keep Atlantis going for as long as possible. Any major failure with Atlantis that meant it couldn't be retained in service would cause huge hassle for the US.

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Minister warns of national grid hack threat

Mike Richards

Oh dear

Has one of our elected and easily bewildered MPs been watching 'Spooks' again?

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Lag log leaks - Home Office contractor loses entire prison population

Mike Richards

Just stabbing in the dark, but...

Let me guess, the data was neither anonymised nor encrypted? I assume it's also reasonable to assume no one in MinJus or PA Consulting will be found at fault.

So it's only a matter of time before the National ID database is downloaded for 'processing' and left lying around by someone from PA.

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Royal Navy plans world's first running-jump jet

Mike Richards

Easier solution

If we built a really, really, really fast ship that steams along at about 500 mph, the pilot could just land, switch off the jet and walk away.

I can't see any possible shortcomings with this idea and what's more, we could get Gerry Anderson to design it.

Which would be FAB.

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UK.gov loses 29 million personal records

Mike Richards

And wait for the spin

When New Labour lose 'only' 28 million records next year they'll be able to claim that privacy standards are continuing to improve.

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Hacker unearths young Chinese gymnast scam

Mike Richards

Dumbing down

'uneven bars'? didn't it used to be 'asymmetric bars'?

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Pentagon hacker McKinnon earns extradition delay

Mike Richards

@ amanfromMars

'A decision which a request to intervene and reverse a [bad] Law Lords ruling absolves them from having to decide, surely.'

The remit of the Law Lords was to decide if the extradition request was compliant with our legal system - *NOT* on the facts of the case itself.

The ECHR has to decide if the Law Lords ruling is compliant with the European Convention on Human Rights - at the moment that is still a matter of legal dispute. If the ECHR conclude that the Lords decision contravened one of the principles of the Convention then they will hear the appeal. If they can find no conflict with the Convention then there will be no hearing and the extradition will proceed.

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UK.gov misses deadline on EU Phorm probe

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'What happens if the EU parliament decides that the UK effectively has not implemented the statutory requirements since it has not included an investigatory body?'

INAL - but - the next step would be for the EU Commission to take the UK government to the European Court of Justice which resolves matters about EU policy (confusingly called EC legislation). If the ECJ finds the UK to be in breach of its commitments under various pieces of EC legislation, the UK would be forced to amend its own legislation to be compatible with the relevant EC law since The Treaty of Rome, (implemented into UK legislation by the European Communities Act (1972)), states that European legislation is automatically supreme over domestic legislation.

The court can can also choose to fine the guilty parties which would be the government, and quite possibly, BT, if they are a party to the complaint.

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Mike Richards

'Hi, thanks for the letter...

'...will write more later, too many people to watch, too little time to be accountable.

'Love, Jacqui.'

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Joint Committee gets it (mainly) wrong on human rights

Mike Richards

Finally something good from America - the Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the US Constitution; incredibly powerful, incredibly simple and incredibly well written. What more would we need?

Of course the US Constitution was written by geniuses who possessed a clear moral vision and an almost unparalleled command of the English language - we have the likes of David Milliband and Hazel Blears who are devoid of either.

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Gmail outage causes outrage

Mike Richards

Clearly a conspiracy

"Cos the same time GMail went tits-up, MobileMe was also having one of its regular lie downs in a darkened room.

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American ISP flashes phantom bandwidth cap

Mike Richards

Ah the old statistic

'Frontier claims its average user consumes just 1.5GB a month'

Is that 'average' as in mean, mode or median?

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Secret of invisibility unravelled by US researchers

Mike Richards

Hmmm...

Surely the material would only be invisible if it doesn't absorb or reflect *any* of the light passing through it. Is this stuff *that* good?

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Mike Richards

@ Robin A. Flood

Your disappearing socks are down to a different physical phenomenon. It's not widely known but all washing machines are fitted with a small, portable wormhole that can accommodate a single sock (or a hamster). Socks that fall into the wormhole are mysteriously teleported across the known universe to the back of wardrobes where they metamorphose into the most stable form of all matter - a coathanger.

There's a Nobel Prize in it for the person who can find out why red socks NEVER go through the wormhole but instead remain hidden, right up until the moment you put a white shirt in the machine. Spookily this happens - even if you don't own any red socks.

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Phorm papers reveal BT's backwards approach to wiretap law

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Pat Hewitt is now a non-executive director at BT, though wasn't at the time of the denied trial (was she still at the Home Office at that time????)'

Not quite, she was busy screwing the NHS into the ground with Connecting For Health.

You'd have thought that would have been a full time job, but not for Patsie Hewitt - she still had time to threaten Channel 4 News for revealing that MTAS was publishing personal data on a public website. It's that sort of care for the public which must have had BT banging on the door waving bank notes in her face.

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Hull falls off the internet

Mike Richards

Hull is restarting...

...please wait.

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CERN: LHC to fire first proton-smash ray next month

Mike Richards

Other tech needed

I hope there's a big lever involved and one of those jacob's ladder machines that goes bbbbzzZZT! bbbbzzZZT! in the background of Frankenstein movies.

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Kiwi cops hunt teenage serial burglar with head of Robbie Coltrane

Mike Richards

Should catch on over here

This could overcome the problem with eFit pictures that they never quite look human. Instead we'll have precise descriptions like 'imagine Joanna Lumley if she were male, black, in her mid-twenties and with a strong Birmingham accent.'

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Suprise at spelling snafu sanctions

Mike Richards

Logical conclusion

We should let students submit in lolspeak.

I'll go halves with anyone who wishes to introduce Ken Smith to a small pit of kwiklime (sic).

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Snoop more, share less - Home Office spurns EU advice

Mike Richards

Death spiral

Come on folks, who gives a toss what New Labour plan for the future? It doesn't have one - this government is spiralling around the electoral drain like a drowned wasp. .

Let's sit back and watch the brothers (and sisters) tear one apart in one final Blairite spasm. Then we give the survivors a damn good kicking.

Then to show we're not politically biased, we give the Tories another damned good kicking.

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Top Jock cop calls for universal DNA database

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'When will the police & politicians finally realise that they cannot keep erode our liberties without getting a backlash from the public.'

Y'know, I'm not sure the British people have a limit. Year after year more and more liberties are taken away and hardly anyone gives a crap - ask people about DNA databases and they regurgitate the 'Crimewatch' line.

I'm sure its down to three things:

1: the crap educational level of the average Briton who knows nothing about - oooh the law, politics, history (and the rest);

2: the fact we don't have a written constitution - take the US, most Americans know what their rights are (in the broadest sense) and where to find them. Who here knows the relevant pieces of legislation that gives us our very limited rights; and;

3: we've never been under a domestic dictatorship or occupied by a foreign power - go to mainland Europe and they all have personal experience or recent family experience of what its like to have a secret police force, detention without trial, the removal of undesirables etc.

Put those three together and you have a smug, complacent, thick-as-pigshit population who can be exploited by anyone with an agenda.

This country is broken, time to take it back and demand a new one.

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BT slams bandwidth brakes on all subscribers

Mike Richards

@ bobbles31

'Add that to a 12 month contract and you have got about as close to fraud as I think it is possible to get without a Cabinet Minister on the board!'

They've got Patricia Hewitt - does that score closely enough?

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Mike Richards

No wonder it's been so shite of late

Well shiteier...

The last few weeks have been appallingly slow on BT - bad enough when just doing a bit of browsing, but I've also had a number of updates for the Mac, the PS3 and Windows that have had to be installed* and they've been taking hours to come over. Now I kind of know why.

The moment my BT contract ends I'm out of there for someone like Zen.

* One for Sony why can't I do ANYTHING on the PS3 until you've downloaded the latest firmware update? This can take the best part of an hour. Why not download in the background and cache to disk so I can get on and play a game / watch a movie. Surely it's not a - gasp - hardware limitation???

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IBM solves world's 'paper or plastic' crisis

Mike Richards

We live at the dawn of a new age

Now for the big question - why have no UK supermarkets introduced those strong brown paper bags you get in US stores?

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NASA chief: ISS tests for super plasma space drive

Mike Richards

@ Stuart Van Onselen @ kevin

Stuart:

'Anybody know if this drive is a new design, or just a bigger, more powerful version of the ones NASA have already been using on small probes?'

It's never been flown, but has been tested on the ground. It's related to the ion engines that have been used on some space probes, but is capable of producing much higher thrusts.

There's quite a nice article on it at:

http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/9.01/plasma.html

Kevin:

'How do you get rid of 12 Megawatts of heat, given that you are in a vacuum?'

Huge radiators.

There are some really early concept drawings for 2001 which shows the Discovery we're familiar with, but sporting enormous radiators all along its length. They'd got some engineers to design radiators big enough to cool the reactor Arthur C Clarke needed to get his ship to Saturn (yes it was originally Saturn, but they couldn't do the rings). Kubrick decided to dump them as they made the ship much less elegant and he wanted something that looked almost skeletal.

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Mike Richards

Not just technofear...

The nuclear reactors on the Soviet RORSATs *WERE* a legitimate cause for concern because a number of them failed to eject their cores into storage orbits at the end of their lives. Which meant that large chunks of intensely radioactive material re-entered the Earth's atmosphere, and on one occasion hit Canada.

They also infuriated astronomers since they were unshielded (to save weight) and their emissions regularly interfered with observations.

RTGs on the other hand are almost entirely safe and the people who protest about those are the usual 'Back to the Dark Ages envirohippies'.

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American man too fat for execution

Mike Richards

@ fajensen

'Err, no, Mike, because those corrupt beyond belief European parliaments just went and re-introduced the death penalty via the Lisbon treaty "in the case of war, riots, upheaval".'

Not true.

Protocol 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights has always allowed for the imposition of the death penalty in times of war, or where there is an imminent prospect of war; but only in signatory states where there is existing legislation that permits the death penalty.

In all other circumstances the death penalty is forbidden by the binding Nice Treaty of 2000. All but four member states (Italy, Poland, Latvia and Spain) have also ratified Protocol 13 of the ECHR which outlaws the death penalty IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.

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Too much money? Bling your iPhone with the $1000 app

Mike Richards

@ StopthePropaganda

'Any bets on it hitting 2.5x within two years, or 3x after Obama and a Democratic congressional majority rule?'

Nah, with the current lot in charge over here we'll be in a race to parity with the Zimbabwe Dollar.

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Paris Hilton - the compromised candidate

Mike Richards

Endorsed by vultures

Is the Mighty Reg going to throw its full weight behind Paris? A heavy-weight endorsement from the Register could be just what we need to see POTUS Paris.

And is there any chance one of her rallies could be brought to us in PlayMobilovision?

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