* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Doctors: Third babies are the same as patio heaters

Mike Richards

Failing to see the problem here...

The population can't keep expanding for the very simple reason there isn't a bottomless pool of resources to be tapped. The doctors aren't calling for euthanasia, they're talking about a move towards a lower population by people tying a knot in it after two.

I went to a hustings at OU during the last general election and this question came up (it was at a university) and watching the candidates squirm was fascinating - and worrying. The Tory/UKIP position was that no one should be told what to do and it'd get in the way of economic growth. The LibDem/Green position was that this was a problem, but they didn't know how it could be solved; and Labour (in the form of the Android MP for MKSW) was that that no one should be coerced to do anything - yeah, thought you'd like that.

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Brits terrified of online fraud, but want magic cars, says BT

Mike Richards

Ask a loaded question

'Today the proportion wishing for a less dangerous online life is 28 per cent.'

Hmmm isn't this the official reason for Phorm?

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Home Office to order fingerprinting of air passengers

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Oh, except Blair gave us the Parliament Act '

Actually though they're the sort of law that would give him wet dreams, Blair got beat to it - twice, once in 1911 and once in 1949. However New Labour have abused the two Parliament Acts and used them far more than any other government.

Labour is also committed to further reducing the power of the Lords should it be re-elected, further tipping powers towards the executive in the Commons.

As for extending the life of a Parliament...

The Parliament Act 1911 set the term to a maximum of five years, but that is not absolute. A series of acts passed in the Second World War extended Parliament for a maximum of ten years on the grounds that an election would be a distraction and potentially divisive during a crisis.

So a government could introduce a bill that struck down all or part of the Parliament Act 1911 and simply declare a new maximum term (we've had maximum terms of both three and seven years in the past); or they could try and declare a situation so serious that an election wasn't in the country's best interests.

I'd hope that there are still enough members of the Parliamentary Labour Party that neither of those are a goer.

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Chinese takeaway biodiesel man in garage explosion horror

Mike Richards

@Tony

'They used to show pictures of him in the local press everytime that the C&E popped round to make sure he wasn't actually imbibing the product.'

Bizarre, you'd have thought even Customs and Excise would know that the main side-effect of swigging methanol is to be found lightly dead.

The real drawback of methanol as a fuel (as if being toxic wasn't enough) is that it is highly corrosive to materials like plastics and aluminium. You can burn it in your car, but don't be too surprised if bits start dropping off.

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CGI furnishes filmstar with fur

Mike Richards

Awesome writing Sarah

Thanks, but since you brought the subject up...

Tom Cruise in 'Valkyrie'.

Not only demands the line 'aren't you a little short for a stormtrooper?', but raises the horrifying possibility that he might do an oh-so-serious worthy movie pulling a German accent.

In which case bagsie the popcorn, this could be the most definitive Nazi movie since 'The Producers'.

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Reg hack insults the Parachute Regiment

Mike Richards

Silly Reg...

If you'd thought about it, you'd have cast doubts on the ability of the lovely Italians, then you could expect lots of leggy Mediterranean minxes descending on Vulture Towers wanting to give you a very stern talking to.

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Sutton Police bribe kids to behave

Mike Richards

Should be mandatory...

...to have cops in every cinema audience. It might be the only way to stop members of the audience talking, making and taking phone calls, jumping up and down and generally being pains in the ass.

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US nuke missile crew falls asleep on the job

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous from Mars

'YANKEE HOTEL FOXTRAUT BRAVO INDIA ALPHA GULF SIERRA OHSCAR ZULU NOVEMBYR KILO JULIET'

And a vowel please Carol.

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High-priority patch fixes critical vulns in RealPlayer

Mike Richards

Bloody BBC iPlayer

If only I didn't like listening to live radio - then I could junk RealPlayer once and for all and only be left with the sucktitude that is Flash on the Mac.

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Greenpeace: UK gov trying to strangle wind power

Mike Richards

Okay setting aside the Greenpeace hyperbole

They do seem to have a point - in part. Since none of the new nuclear plants have ever been announced, let alone designed, tendered and built; there would seem to be available tap in points waiting to be used as older plants are decommissioned.

It's obvious that wind turbines and presumably wave can be constructed and deployed faster than a new nuclear plant; so why not give offshore renewables priority access to the existing terminals and build additional grid capacity at the same time as the new nuclear stations go up?

Or is that dangerously joined-up thinking?

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Free for all on London Underground

Mike Richards

@ Roger Kynaston

'imagine if This (and previous crashes) had been the National Identity Card.'

More like

'And tonight Matthew I will be Gordon Brown.'

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Tiscali sues BT for 'defamation and falsehood'

Mike Richards

@Mark Baker

I feel your pain.

I'm £24 in credit with Tiscali after closing my account.

Not only have they failed to send me the balance; but (and this is the surreal bit), they referred my case to a bailiff. So I'm waiting for a burly bloke to smash the door down and leave something valuable behind.

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Mike Richards

Is it defamation to say

That both companies are shit?

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UK comms intercepts up by half - and it isn't the council

Mike Richards

Thank goodness!

With councils having these powers none of the local terrorists will be getting their kids into the good schools - hah, bet you didn't think of that Osama!

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Climate protestor claims glued self to UK Prime Minister

Mike Richards

Best opening line of an article ever

Full stop.

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Sat nav blunder places The Rock in Skegness

Mike Richards

Makes things much clearer

Parcelforce clearly use the same satnav system.

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Blighty's electro-supercar 2.0 uncloaked today

Mike Richards

Engine noise

You want the sound of the most appallingly loud, buttock-clenchingly badly tuned, polar-bear drowningly inefficient engine ever to come out of 1970s Detroit.

Then pull up next to a lentil knitter's recumbent bike and watch them keel over from a heady mix of malnutrition and apoplexy.

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Home Office classes openness review a secret

Mike Richards

undeclared carbon dioxide

Does this mean SodaStreams now have to be licenced?

One of the reports yesterday mentioned the government can now demand entry to your house to look for bears.

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Scientists ponder future Moon mission activities

Mike Richards

@ Charles Manning

Actually the Russians didn't get it right from the start. Their robot sample return missions were a fall-back when they realised there was no way their N1 Moon rocket was not going to be ready in time to beat the Saturn V.

They did consistently beat America with their Luna probes but this was down to the greater throw weight of the R7 launcher and its derivatives over American rockets of the time. But the American Ranger, Surveyor and Lunar Orbiter probes were more or less doing the same job as the early Luna probes.

Where the Russians really scored was Lunokhod which roved the Moon for months and could be sent into areas that it was impossible to put manned landers. It's a shame they didn't go on with later missions - a robot roving the far side would have been awesome - but the technological problems would have been huge.

The astronauts of Apollo did an impressive job bearing in mind with one exception, none of them were geologists; but the lack of time was crippling. Expeditions on Apollo 15 and 17 had to be curtailed because of lack of oxygen. Maybe the best solution will be for future astronauts to have a robot buddy they can drop off at sites of interest and leave it to do a prolonged study of the area when they blast off back to Earth.

I suppose I'm grouchy because I was too young to be an astronaut when Apollo was sending men to the Moon and now I'm too old for the next missions. If anyone from NASA is reading - PLEASE - I was a doozy at studying europium anomalies in lunar samples - and I can't use that line in my CV anywhere else!

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DDoS attack floors Georgia prez website

Mike Richards

@ Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

Putin: 'short, failed lieutenant general'

Hmmm let me see, became President of the Russian Republic, took control of the World's second largest nuclear arsenal, started rebuilding the military, brought the economy under control, cracked down on low-level corruption, made sure the West took Russia seriously, rebuilt the country's foreign currency reserved, seen by the Russian people as one of their greatest leaders, and is now Prime Minister.

Nice - no; scary - absolutely; failed - certainly not.

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EU abolishes the acre

Mike Richards

At bloody last

In the dim and distant 1970s, when we still had proper summers, I learned land area in ares and hectares; never acres - so what's the fuss? Just the same as I only ever saw SI units in school.

Surely the majority of people in the UK have now only learned SI and metric in school it's time to get rid of the ridiculous Imperial system once and for all?

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UK gov announces Road Pricing 2.0 - Managed Motorway

Mike Richards

£6 billion?

Where's this money suddenly come from? The government is flat broke and another huge wodge of cash comes along all of a sudden. It'd be nice to see this sort of money being promised to build the high speed train links we're going to need RSN if the rail network isn't to grind to a complete halt.

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Clay minerals point to vast Martian lakes

Mike Richards

@Anonymous coward

Re: water

The current hypothesis of planetary formation is that the building blocks of the planets really don't much resemble what we see today - instead their bulk composition was probably much more like cometary matter - rich in volatile compounds like water, methane and ammonia. So the proto-Mars would have had much more water present than we see today. When these rocks were being formed, Mars was regularly receiving fresh supplies of water courtesy of the huge cometary impacts which helped carve out the Martian craters.

As for where it went. A good deal would have been converted into hydrated minerals in the Martian crust (like these phyllosilicates), some would have migrated into the subsoil permafrost, but the vast majority has been lost forever because Mars is too small.

Being small, Mars' interior cooled quickly and solidified. As it did so, the Martian magnetic field would have collapsed to the current pitiful strength. The magentic field helps shield the Martian atmosphere from the solar wind, no field and the wind can impact straight on to the atmosphere where sub-atomic particles tear molecules - such as water - apart. The free hydrogen atoms have velocities considerable in excess of Mars' escape velocity and are lost to space, the free oxygen wouldn't have escaped, but would have reacted with rocks and been locked away in the crust.

As the atmosphere was eroded, the liquid phase of water would not be possible on the Martian surface; water only being found in the form of ice or water vapour. Any vapour is vulnerable to being lost to space, so the process continues.

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Tech woes threaten NASA's Moon plan

Mike Richards

Why it's so hard

NASA in the 1960s was receiving twice as much money (adjusted for inflation) as they are now and only had to worry about funding one major project at a time - not the mishmash of projects that they've been tasked with by various Congresses.

If the ISS was abandoned as the useless white elephant it is and the Shuttle immediately retired as being pointless without the ISS, NASA might have the money to begin working on the Orion project.

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Mike Richards
Coat

@ Anonymous Coward

'Incidentally I believe the biggest problem with Ares so far is vertical oscillations (pogoing) caused by the fundamental way a solid rocket motor runs, burning along the whole length of the tube. STS (the shuttle) doesn't suffer from this as there are two boosters tied together by the ET.'

Pogoing was a major problem with the Saturn V which was never entirely resolved. The unmanned Apollo 6 suffered such sever pogo that several pieces came off the rocket and it came close to structural failure. Apollos 11, 12 and 13 all experienced severe vibration during launch. On 13, the rocket very nearly never got into orbit; pogo caused one of the engines to shut down just before it tore loose of its mounting - which would have destroyed the rocket. Later flights used a slightly redesigned Saturn V and were much less rough on their crew.

Unfortunately pogo is one of those things that can't really be simulated on the ground with static tests, you can attempt to eliminate it at the design phase but the only real test is to light the candle - which is expensive and risky.

It's also worth pointing out that the Soviet N1 Moon rocket was destroyed by pogo in its last flight. The rocket was within seconds of completing the first successful burn of its first stage when pogo caused the computer to begin shutting down engines; the rocket tumbled out of control and exploded. With four out of four failures, the N1 was cancelled.

Mine's the hoodie with the gold tinted visor.

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UK boffins roll out video periodic table

Mike Richards

Prior art

The Open University has put a nice clip of one of their old TV programmes on YouTube, featuring the noble gases, a man on the brink and some provocatively chunky knitwear:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLrofyj6a2s

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Apple has that syncing feeling over MobileMe

Mike Richards

Push, shove, doesn't matter...

...MobileMe is broken.

The introduction has been even more of a fiasco than last week's iPhone 3G launch.

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Hackintosh maker gets legal greeting from Apple

Mike Richards

Perhaps I'm missing something

If Apple spend time and money developing an operating system why *shouldn't* they be able to dictate the conditions on how it's used?

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UK's future super-stealth jumpjet 'rock solid' - Brit test pilot

Mike Richards

@ ShaggyDoggy

Shouldn't that be iPod dock?

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Netflix will stream movies on Xbox 360

Mike Richards

Gets pretty expensive

Even though they won't be charging for streaming movies, the cost of XBox Live and a Netflix subscription is pretty expensive.

If they bundled a basic Netflix subscription into the Gold package that might go some way towards justifying the price of Live. Sony don't charge for their online service, nor do Nintendo, and whilst Live is the best of the online gaming services, it's still pretty expensive for what it offers.

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Criminal record checks could hit over 14 million people

Mike Richards

Final estimate...

...will be about 67 million people.

This will be followed by the incorporation of all voluntary organisations, youth work schemes and schools into a single government regulated body; anyone refusing to join will be imprisoned as a danger to the community as a potential paedophilic terrorist. May I suggest calling it the Brown Shirts? Such a snappy name it's hard to see why they haven't used it already.

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Raptor and Eurofighter go head to head

Mike Richards

And the winner is...

...on stylistic grounds, the F22 - handsome beast. No TSR-2 I grant you, but it doesn't look like it was designed by a committee.

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Homer Simpson's email address hacked

Mike Richards

Re. 555

It's a bit more complex than 555 being a fictional area code.

Only 555-0100 to 555-0199 are reserved for film and television use. The remainder of the 555-xxxx can be used; IIRC 555-1212 is local directory enquiries throughout the US.

There were plans a while back for 555-xxxx to be used for getting hold of local franchises - so 555-APPL might get you the nearest Apple store to your present location, but AFAIK this has not become common.

Now another question - why have British companies never followed the Americans and used handy mnemonics for their telephone numbers?

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Boeing to build combo airship-copter flying cranes

Mike Richards

@ Gianni Straniero

Actually the cause of the Hindenburg burning at Lakehurst is still disputed, analysis of the fire does not support the dope theory as much as its proponents would like to admit.

Hydrogen IS too deadly to use; the Graf Zeppelin is pretty much the only airship to have ever had a long successful career whilst being lifted with hydrogen. If you want examples of other hydrogen-fed disasters, then choose from the British / American R38, the British super-ship the R101, the French record-breaking Dixmude or a terrible number of WW1 Zeppelins that burned in the air - all because of hydrogen and nothing to do with their doping.

Zeppelin themselves recognised the risk from hydrogen and designed the Hindenburg to be inflated with helium; however, the US refused to export the gas to Germany because of Nazi re-armament policies and the fear that it might be diverted into a military airship programme. So Hindenburg was inflated with hydrogen and made a successful first season of travel to the US. Over the winter when it was laid up, the ship's accommodation was expanded to make use of the extra lift provided by hydrogen. The airship never finished that season.

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Malware authors declare start of World War III (again)

Mike Richards

Might have missed it

I was waiting for iTunes to authenticate my iPhone so I was kind of distracted.

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The iPhone 2.0 update - don't do it, kids

Mike Richards

This is shambolic

And this time Apple have to take the blame.

I got the original iPhone back in November and getting that working was less smooth than it should be. I assumed they would have noticed the long delays in getting to iTunes last year and geared up accordingly. But no, today's upgrade to 2.0 is even worse.

@ Ioannis above. Good point I wonder if they'll refund people who can't use their paid-for service because of this shambles.

@ Kenny above. Yup .Mac/Mobile Me/Me is up, down, up, down, up, down. Mail is still working, but nothing else.

Next time guys - stagger these events. Firmware release BEFORE a new product launch to keep existing customers happy. And don't bugger round with a vital service at the same time.

Thank God the Reg is still working, it'd be like the 19th Century here if I didn't know everyone else was watching the iPhones go out one by one.

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Dog off the menu at Olympic restaurants

Mike Richards

Spitting

If the Chinese do solve the problem of voluminous expectoration, can they share the secret so that we can do the same to younger people in this country.

Mine's the one with 'Bah! Humbug' on the back marked out in Werther's Original wrappers.

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O2 buckles under 3G iPhone demand

Mike Richards

Oh to be a fly on the wall at O2

When their MD gets a well-deserved Jobsian bollocking for screwing up one of the highest profile product launches of the year.

Something tells me O2 can forget getting the rights to the next phone. 3 years exclusivity will be out the window when O2 have shown themselves to be manifestly incapable of selling the product.

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Ryanair wins German court victory in screen-scraping injunction

Mike Richards

Must be a first

"It is simply unacceptable that consumers are being misled by these screen-scrapers into paying 'handling charges' for Ryanair’s flights when they can purchase the same flights with no handling charge on www.ryanair.com,"

RyanAir complaining about people having to pay unwarranted charges???

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Blears pitches prize draws and online polls at young votes

Mike Richards

Taking it to the logical Blearsian conclusion

Offer them money if they vote the right way.

Either that or a chance to win a passion-filled night with New Labour's Poison Dwarf.

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Japan to fund creation of 40W, 40in OLED TV

Mike Richards

Great idea...

...now will the Japanese government fund my purchase of a 40W 40" OLED TV?

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Jacqui Smith kick-starts yoof ID debate site, site kick stops

Mike Richards

Bliss

Part of me likes to think that Jacqui Smith is in her office sacking the bright-young-thing who came up with to the idea of this site. But a much larger part of me hopes she remains blissfully unaware for a bit longer.

As spin-doctoring operations go mylifemyid is a John Redwood / Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau moment.

Can we look forward to daily 'best-of's?

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Ryanair begins screen-scraping lawsuit

Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward

'Ah well, when the oil drought hits aviation fuel a bit harder, Ryanair will be first against the wall -- their target market will be the first to stop flying.'

Sadly, for all sorts of reasons - environmental and moral - RyanAir will be one of the last companies to hit the wall. They've got a modern fleet that sips less fuel, they run at very high load values and they aren't tied into the expensive major hubs so they can switch routes easily enough. Not to mention their scamtastic marketing suckers people into buying flights with them when the final cost is only a little less than flying with an airline which gives a damn* and takes you where you want to go and not a tin shed in the wrong time zone.

The ones that are going to go are the heavily indebted fleets with archaic business practices, protected by anti-competitve legislation, massive pension commitments and total reliance on big airports. Which is pretty much the whole of the American airline industry with the possible exception of SouthWest.

* SAS if you must know - no not the blokes in balaclavas.

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Trust on the slide, Chris Moyles on the up at BBC

Mike Richards

BBC education programming

'For example, a close reading of the production figures shows BBC2 has reduced its education programming by almost half – from 1374 to 785 hours. No doubt this change has some underlying significance.'

A good part of this is because the Open University has lost its late-night BBC2 'Learning Zone' broadcasting slot; instead the BBC switches over to the wondrous rolling car crash of fluffed links, missing captions and wrong clips that is BBC News.

Just think, generations of British youth will no longer discover the wonders of geology, organic chemistry and pure mathematics simply because they've staggered home in the wee small hours and just flicked on the TV - this is a cultural tragedy.

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Hawkeye technology turns tennis into a cartoon

Mike Richards

@Adrian Esdaile

'Combine Tennis, Foxhunting, Waterpolo and Target Shooting and make a sport that is actually worth watching.'

Now that mate - is genius.

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Sony spin-off planning 2009 FED TV launch

Mike Richards
Coat

Forget the TV...

...I want that jacket.

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UK.gov serves up GM food as price hike fix

Mike Richards

Actually...

The simplest way to reduce food costs and supply enough to feed the population is to stop feeding grain and soya to animals in feedlots. The US could support three or four times its current population by switching its grain harvest from animals to humans.

This doesn't mean a veggie world, it means meat becoming relatively more expensive; but the meat we would get would be tastier.

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The Moderatrix will see you now

Mike Richards

@ blackworx

A far more interesting question about tongue is:

'Can it taste you eating it?'

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UK.gov launches data mash-up competition

Mike Richards

Here's one

Plotting MPs' second homes on Google Maps. Then they can use that info to find their nearest John Lewis store.

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Asus readies iMac attack with all-in-one Eee

Mike Richards

Hmmm...

The perspex bit at the bottom is there simply because Asus couldn't be bothered to design a proper stand. It also means I wouldn't be able to tuck my keyboard underneath to retrieve a bit of desk space - something I do like about the iMac / CinemaDisplay monitors.

I like my Eee a lot, but increasingly Asus are looking like headless chickens frantically hoping to strike gold a second time.

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