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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Europe's Tesla will be first with full performance

Mike Richards
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@ 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Dumbing down

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

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Pentagon hacker McKinnon earns extradition delay

Mike Richards
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@ 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
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@ 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
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'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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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@ 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
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@ 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
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Hull is restarting...

...please wait.

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

Mike Richards
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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
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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
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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
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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
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@ 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
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@ 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
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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
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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
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@ 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
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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
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@ 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
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@ 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
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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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NASA: Mars is good habitat for Terry Pratchett dragons

Mike Richards
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Not entirely unexpected

The Viking missions were the first successful landers designed to look for signs of life. They found carbon dioxide was released when Martian soil was wetted and nutrients added. The initial suspicion was that microbes had been found in the soil and had been incubated, but later tests showed that biological reactions were unlikely and that the soil must contain a powerful oxidising agent.

The big question for the last thirty years has been to try and work out what it is in the soil. Peroxides have been a favourite, but it looks like perchlorate ions are the guilty parties.

Now it'd be nice to know what sort of concentrations we're looking at - high quantities would pretty much remove any possibility of life at this site since perchlorate reacts strongly with organic molecules.

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Delta aims Wi-Fi at American planes

Mike Richards
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Kudos to Delta

That will make it the best of the American carriers that bother to fly the Atlantic. Of course by 'best' I mean in the sense that scrofula is the best skin infection you can contract.

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Old ships' logs show temporary global warming in 1730s

Mike Richards
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@ herman

I'm old enough to remember the 1970s global cooling scare, but hat's all it was - a scare.

Some climatologists of the time had a theory that interglacials such as the one we've been living in for the last 10K years had a mean lifetime of - well about 10K years. When they looked at climactic data, there was also a marked downturn in global temperatures during the middle 20th Century. So it was a reasonable theory to propose we were looking at the end of an interglacial with global temperatures likely to go into long term decline.

HOWEVER, that was only ever a minority point of view - albeit a well publicised one. The majority of global climate scientists had concluded that temperatures would either remain stable or, even begin to warm. They were looking at the various Milankovich Cycles that appear to have been driving the Pleistocene and Holocene climate changes.

We now know that the decline in the mid 20th Century is more linked to the huge aerosol emissions associated with the rapid industrialisation of the Northern Hemisphere, particularly in North America, the USSR and China, much of which was driven by high sulphur coal. As these economies gradually switched to cleaner coal and increasingly to oil and gas; and began to limit industrial emissions, the skies cleared and temperatures began to rise.

And if anyone is still reading - (hello) - the Medieval Warm Period is responsible for Greenland being MARGINALLY warmer than it is today - it was never green - that was Viking spin. Unlike the current warming, its effects were not global; the North Atlantic saw large amounts of warming, but the Pacific was cooler. It also came on much slower than the current warming, so its cause was probably not related to what we're seeing today.

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Home Office bankrolls plastic plod 'documentaries'

Mike Richards
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Hazel the Jihadi Slayer

30 second pitch.

Permanently short and painfully cheerful Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, mounts her hog (that's a bike BTW.) to root out extremist behaviour around Britain. Armed with nothing more than a chirpy attitude and a government green paper she's our last bet hope to protect the New Labour Project.

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Blighty's nuke-power push stalled as EDF buy falls through

Mike Richards
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And another reason to get at Gordon Brown

Until last year the British government had a majority stake in British Energy, until it was flogged off to try and balance the books by one Gordon Brown.

In the last few years, Labour have sold off BNFL's Westinghouse group which manufactures reactors AND control of the industry - but are now trying to have a nuclear future.

Honestly, this lot couldn't organise the piss up if we provided the brewery AND and an instruction sheet.

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US Congress to vote on in-flight mobile ban

Mike Richards
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@ Anonymous Coward

'By the way, why do EU nations like Spain & the Netherlands think their law trumps all law everywhere? e.g. http://tinyurl.com/5g262r'

It's pretty much the same in all legislatures which have grown up regarding themselves as the supreme arbiters of lawmaking. In this country there is absolutely nothing to prevent the House of Commons passing an Act of Parliament that declares the speaking of French to be a crime no matter where it is spoken. At a stroke, the entire nation of France would be violation of the law, but it could never be enforced.

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Spammers, Cuil, and the rescue from planet Google

Mike Richards
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@Richard Kay

There's a common misconception that the US legal system outlaws monopolies, in fact it only outlaws abuse of a monopoly position. Microsoft were found to be abusing their 90%+ share of the OS market and fell foul of anti-trust legislation.

For Google to face a monopoly investigation there must first be substantive evidence that their actions are affecting the consumer.

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Home Office minister gets tough, then gets stuck

Mike Richards
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May I suggest

Liam tells us how 'firm' he plans to be.

Then we can all snigger at the back of the Internet.

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New Van Gogh pic discovered using German atom-smasher

Mike Richards
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A question for the local physicists

Don't you ever - even for a tiny moment - want to stand in front of a particle accelerator and see if you'll get superpowers?

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US airforce to launch robotic Space Shuttle 2.0 this year

Mike Richards
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Why USAF needs winged spacecraft...

...is one of the reasons the Space Shuttle is so poor.

Many military payloads need to be put into a polar orbit at a high inclination to the equator. By the time an object has made just one orbit taking about 90 minutes, the planet will have rotated and its launch site will have slipped away to the East. In the event of a crisis where the craft can't simply wait for the Earth to complete a revolution, the orbiter needs to steer its way back through re-entry - a so-called cross-range capability - which is best done with wings.

Of course wings are heavy and cause huge problems for the aerodynamics during launch when they contribute almost nothing. It was the USAF's insistence that the Space Shuttle had to have cross-range capability which produced the current design.

The USAF wanted to launch shuttles into polar orbits out of Vandenburg on the Californian coast and wanted to guarantee that in the event of an emergency their oh-so-secret payloads could be returned safely to America. To get to polar orbit the Shuttle would have needed super light-weight solid rocket boosters; but after the Challenger explosion it was quickly realised this design was even more prone to failure. So the Vandenburg Shuttle complex was mothballed, the USAF switched to the Titan IV heavy booster and the Shuttle became something of a white elephant.

But it looks like the boys in blue have decided they still want something that goes whoosh in space (laws of physics not withstanding).

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Only 'unlawful threats' would invalidate McKinnon extradition

Mike Richards
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@ Seán

'People who wear wigs and like to be spanked as a result of a culture of sodomy in boarding schools and inbreeding shouldn't really be in charge of anything never mind the liberty of real people. '

So if judges aren't to decide the application of the law, who should? Politicians? The Jeremy Kyle audience?

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McKinnon loses Lords appeal

Mike Richards
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@ MichaelG

'I agree - Brown & Co (inc bought Lords) have their heads so far up Bush & Co's arses that they can see their intestines.'

That's a very foolish and incorrect statement..

...Brown & Co. have their heads so far up Bush & Co's arses they could be their dentists.

As for the Lords; they are not passing judgement on the rights or wrongs of the case but on the legality of the extradition request.

Ever since Blunkett passed the cack-handed extradition treaty with the United States, there has been almost no way of blocking a request from US authorities. If you were kidnapped from the streets with a bag over your head, the current treaty would probably blame you for kicking and screaming so hard.

The decision of the ECHR whether or not to hear the case will be an interesting one.

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Citizens's panel demands policing for DNA database

Mike Richards
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THUNK! THUNK! THUNK!

<quote>

'some even believed they should be kept up to five years after death in case a crime comes to light.'

</quote>

'And in the case of the Crown versus the exhumed corpse of Geraldo von Bubblejet, the defendant was once again warned that refusing to enter a plea may prove prejudicial to his defence.'

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More dodgy phone-ins cost BBC £400,000

Mike Richards
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@ Sean

'Surely some other kind of punishment could have been used.'

I'd be happy to see Jonathan Ross flogged through the streets of London.

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Bebo users to summon superhuman alien pop-fancier invasion

Mike Richards
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Quatermass?

Maybe we can use the power of social networking power (no, don't laugh) and get all the Bebotistas to gather together for harvesting.

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Apple is sorry (again) over MobileMe

Mike Richards
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@ Robert

Yep, I'm getting intermittent errors with Mail refusing to send messages using the correct servers. To be fair though, this problem pre-existed long before MobileMe was dumped on us.

I've found I can normally get the message to bugger off to where its meant to go by using the resend button on the error window. If that doesn't work, quitting Mail and restarting usually gets Mail to do what it's meant to do.

Of course the most important question is - what's WebsterPhreaky's take on all this?

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