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* Posts by Mike Richards

3578 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Court rules 90s UK.gov wiretaps violated human rights

Mike Richards
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@ Mark

Ummmm what would ditching HRA do in this case?

The UK is a founding member of the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Court of Human Rights is the ultimate arbiter of that convention. All HRA did was incorporate the majority of the Convention into UK Law meaning that citizens had redress for breaches of their rights in the UK courts rather than having to appeal their case all the way to the court in Strasbourg, a process that cost tens of thousands of Pounds and many years.

Dumping HRA would just make things worse for people whose rights have been infringed, delay justice and allow governments to get away with greater abuses.

If anything HRA needs to be strengthened. It's not possible for a judge to strike down a law that conflicts with the Convention, nor can they refuse to sentence someone who broke such a law. to remain on the statute book, whereas they should be repealed. The strongest action a court can take is to issue a declaration of incompatibility with the Convention, but they cannot fine the government for breaching the Convention. The reason is down to the self-importance of Parliament which considers itself the sole arbiter of UK law. So anyone hoping that ID Cards could be declared illegal under HRA are in for a nasty surprise.

The sooner we have a modern constitution (we could do a whole lot worse than to plagiarise the one written by a bunch of traitors in 1787) the better.

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Who will be the next Doctor?

Mike Richards
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There can only be one actor for the role

I speak of Tom Cruise - he talks to real aliens every day.

If David Hasselhoff could do the soundtrack that would be awesome.

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Asda declares baby's arse 'pornographic'

Mike Richards
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Tech angle???

Couldn't you at least have told us how much the inkjet cartridges cost to do an entire cake?

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Available to buy: your own frakkin' 7ft Cylon

Mike Richards
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@Graham Wood

Sorry, your chemist friend is wrong. (But just think how much fun you can have telling him)

The internationally agreed name for element number 13 is 'aluminium', with 'aluminum' being an acceptable alternative.

The problem goes all the way back to Humphry Davy who made the first attempts at separating the raw metal from pure aluminium oxide - alumina. He called the then hypothetical element 'alumium' at first before settling on 'aluminum' where it remained for a few more years before becoming 'aluminium' to fit in better with the majority of metal names.

However, the Brits didn't get it all their own way, the internationally agreed spelling for element 16 is 'sulfur'. Tragically, it is now also the recommended spelling in the UK according to the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. Presumably the precious little snowflakes in today's schools can't be expected to spell 'sulphur'.

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UK abandons train and tube scanners

Mike Richards
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Now I'm confused

It would have cost billions; it would have crushed a few more rights; it'd have employed more people in peaked hats and big boots; it have been hopelessly unreliable, inconvenient and infuriating; and most of all - IT WOULDN'T HAVE WORKED...

...and the government is abandoning it?

What (as they say) gives?

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Family visa sponsors face ID, credit and CRB checks

Mike Richards
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Did I say Tony McNulty - I meant Liam Byrne

But the same sentiment applies.

Is it just me, or does Liam Byrne look like he'd get off on any opportunity to wear a black uniform with silver piping, jack boots and wire-frame glasses?

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Mike Richards
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Isn't collective punishment illegal?

The closest analogy in existing law is when a suspect is bailed over for a later court appearance. If the bailee fails to answer the bail conditions, the person who put up the assurance isn't jailed they merely lose their money.

So why are perfectly innocent people going to be criminalised if an immigrant does a runner?

The repulsive Tony McNulty really is the lowest of the low in New Labour (and that's up against some pretty stiff competition); by building a career hard man image by picking on the weakest and most disadvantaged in society.

The sooner he and his cronies are thrown out of power the better.

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Xbox 360 owners tougher than PS3 fans - survey

Mike Richards
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Makes sense

Most 360 owners have been hardened through multiple bereavements as their precious boxes have RRoDed time after (three and counting) bloody time.

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CERN declares Large Hadron Collider perfectly safe

Mike Richards
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Easy way to see if CERN are telling the truth

If they honestly think the LHC is going to spit out all sorts of subatomic weirdness they won't have bought the extended warranty.

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It's time for a close-up look at mobile porn

Mike Richards
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I had assumed...

...his users found the iPhone's lack of keyboard made it easier to wipe clean.

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Post Office aims to collect ID card fingerprints?

Mike Richards
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Oh terrific

I need to post a letter and the queue in front already contains a family claiming a wheelbarrow load of benefits; a semi-literate teenager completing a passport application at the desk so that he can spend his gap year contracting some of Southern Europe's most exciting sexually-transmitted diseases; a Sun reader changing five billion Vietnamese Dong into Sterling one Dong at a time whilst recounting their nights of bliss at the Hanoi Hilton Happy Slapper LadyBoy Passion Parlour to anyone within earshot; someone whose actually bought one of those 'you've never heard of this movie' DVDs for £1.99 - in copper; three Lottery players trying to pick their almost certainly unlucky numbers, and a Patagonian waiter looking to send a 1/2 tonne box complete with air holes to one of the lesser-travelled parts of the Andes - and now they're going to be scanning people's eyeballs???

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Liberty director threatens to sue Burnham over 'tawdry smear'

Mike Richards
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Let's enjoy him squirming

This was an on-the-record interview and he's a former spindoctor, Burnham knew what he was doing when he mentioned Chakrabarti. Bringing her into the conversation was not necessary to make a point, but he did it anyway. he should apologise.

Maybe she shouldn't have risen to the bait, but hell it's an opportunity to embarrass one of the government's more greasy members.

What's especially revealing is that Burnham can't get it into his head that people can agree on some things and not others. Such is the android level of conformity in new Labour he fails to see that it's possible for Liberty and Davis to agree on surveillance and disagree on the death penalty. People like Burnham who have no opinions that haven't been put their by the whips shouldn't be allowed into the House of Commons as they do all of us a disservice.

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Heavyweight physics prof weighs into climate/energy scrap

Mike Richards
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Uranium economy

The HUGE problem with nuclear power is political - not the lentil knitters, but international politics. As the report points out, uranium reserves are pretty limited if the World decided that fission was the way forward (and it is increasingly looking that way).

Thorium is in some way an even bigger problem than uranium since it needs to be transmuted into U233 before it can be used as a fuel. The Indians, who have some of the largest thorium reserves, have long experience in doing this. BUT U233 is an excellent material for bomb making. It can be used in a uranium cannon bomb (unlike plutonium), a much simpler, cheaper way of becoming a nuclear power as it doesn't need anything like the same level of expertise - the design of Little Boy dropped on Hiroshima didn't need to be tested and the South Africans assembled a number of similar weapons without ever testing their designs.

The way to extend uranium reserves is through reprocessing and recycling U235 for further use and either blending in Pu239 to make MOX or to embark on a real fast breeder program using Pu239 as the fuel and U238 as the breeding blanket. This would mean a huge commitment to reprocessing - an economic disaster in the UK which is the only country to have ever gone wholeheartedly for the process, and something of an environment nightmare as it means finding repositories for spent actinides. Could any government make such a commitment?

BUT the monster in this is the plutonium economy. Such a programme would require hundreds of tonnes of plutonium, all suitable for bomb making, to be shipped around the World on a continuous basis. It would mean providing countries with whom we have awkward, if not hostile, relationships with plutonium. Bearing in mind the fracas we're currently having with Iran over its uranium program does anyone countenance the US or Israel permitting Iran to receive plutonium shipments?

Okay, we could avoid trans-shipments and say that everyone has a reprocessing program of their own. The technology is from the 1940s and is accessible to anyone with a supply of concrete, kerosene and some 1st year degree chemistry. Is the World ready for 200 odd reprocessing programmes all with the potential to divert plutonium into bomb programs?

Or the US and the rest of the Security Council could say that all new nuclear economies must sign up to receive fuel from their enrichment and processing plants and return spent fuel to them. This hasn't worked too well in the past - India's successful civilian and military programs are a direct protest at trying to impose similar rules through the Non Proliferation Treaty, and Iran's current intransigence is in part down to the fact that under the Treaty every country is permitted to have their own civilian nuclear programs - including a complete fuel cycle. The West demanding that Iran must accept fuel from outside is not grounded in law.

So can the readers of this mighty organ see how to get round these problems?

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Asus Eee Box to debut in UK... minus Linux

Mike Richards
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No Linux, no lovely

What's happened to the Eee's curvaceous best friend?

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Do you know how much of your porn is extreme?

Mike Richards
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A suggestion

Perhaps the government could have a site where we could see images of what is, and, what is not, legal. Maybe add some forums where we can post images and have senior judges, politicians and members of the public decide if they are eye-wateringly illegal.

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London hospital loses 20,000 unencrypted patient files

Mike Richards
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WTF???

"We could not anticipate a determined thief who was prepared to force open a filing cabinet and locked drawers," said Chief Executive David Astley.

OMG! Breaking news from London - locks don't stop thieves!

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Phorm failed to mention 'illegal' trials at Home Office meeting in 2007

Mike Richards
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Home Office speak

"The Home Office refused to disclose further details of who was present at the August 2007 meeting with Phorm, how it was arranged, or what was discussed, saying that the information remained the subject of an ongoing FOI inquiry."

At the end of the FOI inquiry the information will not be released because it will be 'commercially confidential', when the appeal is granted, the discussions will be censored on the grounds of national security.

And I'm with the others above. You should name the spokesdroid.

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Gov claims 'password protection' OK for sensitive docs

Mike Richards
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Prank

Imagine the hilarity if every El Reg burned a CD filled with random data, labelled it with things like 'For Hazel B - URGENT!' and left them on trains and buses across the nation.

Okay I admit they'd be hard to find amongst copies of the Metro and all the legitimate government CDs that have been left behind, but it'd be amusing to see the PM standing in the Commons trying to work out if the disk called 'Iran Battle Plan' found on the 08:25 to Grimsby was genuine or not.

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Swedish parliament rejects snoop everyone law

Mike Richards
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Just think...

...there's a country filled with liberal politicians who value the privacy of the citizen. As a bonus, it's rich, clean and apparently peopled by well-educated, multilingual supermodels.

What a contrast to New Labour's image of Britain.

I really have to learn Swedish...

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Brown pledges annual commons debate on surveillance

Mike Richards
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Oooh dear, bad day to say...

'Brown said that citizens were not alarmed by the government's demands for biometric data, saying this was proved by the fact that “many people now have laptops activated by finger-scans.”'

Did Hazel???

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Thief swipes cabinet minister's laptop from Salford office

Mike Richards
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Couldn't happen to a nicer person

'The BBC however reported that “the machine contained a combination of constituency and government information which should not have been held on it". These included “sensitive documents relating to defence and extremism,” the Beeb said.'

So Hazel's been using her computer in breach of her conditions of employment - I say a nice light firing is in order.

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Davis faces North Korean victory margin in civil liberty vote

Mike Richards
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Easy answer

If the Labour Party apparachiks won't debate Davis in this election, then let's have some interviews with him conducted by the Reg.

You could even ask the readers to submit questions, and after you've weeded the ones out about Paris, the relative benefits of Mac versus Windows and whether Blu-ray is a crock you should have - ummmm - well like I said, we could have some interviews with him conducted by the Reg.

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Blu-ray ramp beats DVD up-take in Europe

Mike Richards
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Hmmmm

These figures are misleading (I think).

The vast majority of Blu-ray players out there are PS3s which may or may not be being used to play the overpriced disks.

But at the comparable point in the uptake of DVD, the PS2 had not yet been launched. For many people the PS2 was their first taste of DVD and the format exploded in popularity from then on.

So I suspect in the near future we'll see the rate of Blu-ray adoption drop below the rate DVD was adopted.

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Reding would OK charges to receive mobile calls

Mike Richards
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What a great idea!

After all, charging people to receive calls has made the American mobile market what it is today - backward, patchy, clunky and a place where using a Motorola is still considered acceptable in polite company.

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NY street-cleaning truck swallows dog

Mike Richards
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Where can I get one?

Do they make right-hand drive mongrel munchers?

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Stunned commuter finds more secret papers on train

Mike Richards
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Perhaps the most shocking thing is...

...that this is a savage critique of state of decor on our privatised rail system.

Such are the horrific colour schemes chosen by the various water companies/banks and market traders running the railways that it is possible for a bright orange folder emblazoned with TOP SECRET to be lost amongst the velour.

Yes SouthWest Trains I'm looking at you...

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HP's VoodooPC challenges MacBook Air on thinness

Mike Richards
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@KenBW2

'I wish everyone would stop pointing out that new laptops run the newest incarnation of the world's most popular Operating System.'

I like this approach to talking about problems. You could spin almost everything this way. F'rinstance:

'I wish everyone would stop pointing out that prostitutes carry the newest incarnation of the world's most popular sexually transmitted disease.'

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UK's first caller ID-spoofing service shuttered after five days

Mike Richards
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The Mighty Reg

Once again the Register triumphs over the forces of evil!

Don't suppose you fancy a go at the Home Office do you?

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Ex-Sun chief to fight Davis in '42 days' by-election

Mike Richards
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Legal question

Since Murdoch is neither a UK citizen nor domiciled here for tax purposes, can he contribute to a political campaign?

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Top Tory resigns on principle over 42 days bill

Mike Richards
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Come on Tony McNulty

Home Office minister Tony McNulty should stand down from his seat; immediately announce he's the Labour candidate and will also be fighting the campaign on the 42-day issue. Then we can see how the arguments really stack up.

The prospect of seeing McNulty (a man with the face and personality of a cat's slapped arse) being bulldozed by David Davis would be a pleasure.

Labour is screwed on this one.

Today was going to be the first day of the PM's fightback, but now it's dominated by DD and the botched vote over 42-days.

And it doesn't get much better for them. If Labour choose to fight the election; they will lose (they came third at the last general election) AND they face the prospect of having 42 days in the news *every* day (Guido is reporting that the Labour candidate for the seat opposes 42-day detention, so that'd be fun).

If they don't fight then the Tories will make hay about Gordon Brown being afraid to face the voters.

Jeez, I'm living in a World where I'm wishing all the best to a Eurosceptic Tory.

Help!

Just tell me Paris is still beautiful.

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Pluto awarded celestial consolation prize

Mike Richards
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@David

The clearing refers to a planet having cleared its region of space of planetismals during the planet-forming period of the Solar System. Satellites are gravitationally bound to a planet so they don't count.

The problem with the current definition is that it means that planets - particularly Neptune fall foul of this clause. Neptune binds a large number of objects in the Kuiper belt and therefore technically has not cleared its orbit. Jupiter also does not have a clear orbit since it is associated with the Trojan asteroids and even Earth has a number of co-orbiting asteroids.

The new definition sucks.

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Mike Richards
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Paris Hilton

Ceres

Ummmm isn't Ceres a 'dwarf planet' under the new confusing classification rather than an asteroid?

It would have been much simpler for everyone if the classification had been something like 'a planet is a non-luminous body in orbit around a star that has assumed a spheroidal shape under the influence of its own gravity.'

That'd have avoided the confusion inherent in the new definition about clearing its orbit which technically means that Neptune is not a planet, kept Pluto as a planet which is what most people wanted and would have excluded all the old asteroids with the possible exceptions of Ceres and Vesta.

Paris because no matter what the astronomers say, she'll always remain a star to me.

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MPs urge action as spooky caller ID-faking services hit UK

Mike Richards
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This will come back to haunt him

"It should be up to the person you're calling to make sure you're who you say you are."

Royce Brisbane better have his lawyer on speed dial the first time the Daily Mail reports his service has been used by a stalker or an unwanted ex to make someone's life hell.

Honestly, can anyone think of a legitimate use for this business that can't be done through other, better, entirely legal means?

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Apple's 3G iPhone to launch 11 July

Mike Richards
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@Ian Ferguson

'The blurb says that your location can be found with GPS or triangulating using Wi-Fi spots and GSM towers; why would they need to do the latter if the GPS is fully-featured? Sounds a bit dodgy to me.'

Actually it makes perfect sense. Using cell and WiFi locations is faster than GPS and uses much less power. It also works indoors and in urban canyons where satellite signals are weak or non-existent. The precision varies, but it can be as good as GPS where there are plenty of towers and known WiFi base station locations.

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Blighty admits 'national shortage' of nuke engineers

Mike Richards
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@James Pickett

So nothing to do with that lovely cold heat sink called the English Channel then?

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Climate supremo deploys knitwear in war on patio heaters

Mike Richards
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Yes, but no...

Yes the amount of CO2 pumped out by patio heaters is pretty minimal compared to our transport and energy emissions, but no - the government is right to publicise them as they are a good symbol of everything that's wrong with our addiction to fossil fuels.

Raising public awareness of our casual use of non-renewable resources for trivial purposes has to be a good thing. Making people aware of the damage caused by CFCs in aerosol cans created a public pressure to ban their use - even though that market was a relatively small part of the total.

Let's hope we can start the same for fossil fuels. Perhaps after patio heaters the government could kill off the minimoto chav bike?

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NASA chief: Europe should have own astronaut ship

Mike Richards
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@ Frank Bough

'Whatever happened to cute little Hermes? '

It was abandoned in the wake of the Challenger disaster. Upgrading its abort facilities meant adding so much weight that it could no longer be orbited by the proposed version of Ariane V.

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UK is not a surveillance society, MPs claim

Mike Richards
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Pretty damning stuff from a Labour-dominated committee

It's worth pointing out that this is incendiary coming from the oleaginous Keith Vaz whose loyalty to New Labour makes the people in Hitler's bunker look a little half-hearted.

'The committee said it was concerned about the HMP Woodhill case - where conversations between an MP and his constituent were recorded in breach of the Wilson doctrine.'

Surveillance of the proles is okay, watching MPs - oooh now that would be naughty!

Nice to see the suitably Orwellian-sounding Ministry of Justice has already said the report is wrong, but if we could all speak a little more clearly that would be very helpful.

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Microsoft proposes gadget feature disabling tech

Mike Richards
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I honestly can't see a single problem with this...

Microsoft develops a system for switching off electronic devices without user input.

We have a paranoid government who wants to be able to control every part of our lives.

What could possibly go wrong if these two get together?

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Gigabyte intros tablet-style Eee rival

Mike Richards
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A distressing trend is developing here...

The Acer One, and the Gigabyte have both been announced without any new technocrumpet.

Haven't they heard - sex sells!

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Blighty joins killer robot club with Afghan strike

Mike Richards
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If a Brit plane is controlled by Americans...

...who's to blame when it follows a fine American tradition and kills a bunch of squaddies?

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ISS toilet sucks again

Mike Richards
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Skylav

I bet you they could have got a Polish guy to do it much cheaper.

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Hummer glummer on high oil price bummer

Mike Richards
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One of the great mysteries of the Universe

Is how GM is still in business with their butt-ugly, unreliable, neanderthal products.

One of the best laughs of last year was seeing that the poor old Transformers had landed on Earth as GM vehicles.

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Acer punts £199 Linux laptop

Mike Richards
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I love my Asus 701 4G -but...

I wish I'd waited a couple of weeks for this little beauty. It has the big screen that would make the Web a bit less frustrating and those looks - for less than £200 there's a machine that looks as sexy as something from Apple or Sony.

Hmmm can I persuade the office I need to do a comparison of various sublappies?

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Over half of US HD TV owners blurry on Blu-ray

Mike Richards
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@David Wiernicki

It really depends on the transfer and the source. If the source is TV then you'd best be hoping they mastered it on film or one of the newer HD tape formats, otherwise it's going to look ugly from the start. But even then, the love of modern TV directors for a gritty appearance is a real problem. Anyone who expects the HD-DVD of Battlestar Galactica to be much better than the DVD transfer is in for a nasty shock - all that seems to have happened is that the digital grain that ruins the series is now crisper than ever before.

But the people doing the transfers seem to be responsible for the remarkable number of shoddily mastered Blu-rays and HD-DVDs. Blacks that aren't black is a real bugbear. Not to mention the seriously ugly 25Gb Blu-rays in circulation. Strangely, although HD-DVD only offers a bit more capacity than the 25Gb disks, I haven't seen so many bad transfers to HD-DVD - perhaps it was Sony's decision to master early Blu-rays in MPEG-2ovision?

At its best Blu-ray and HD-DVD are *MUCH* better than their DVD equivalents. Hopefully as the switch is made to 50Gb disks and better encoding they'll all start showing their true colours (quite literally).

And the movie studios are really liking the switch to 50Gb because they're planning on selling the same movies to early adopters - this time as they always should have been seen. Step forward Disney...

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Canon EOS 400D digital SLR

Mike Richards
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Who designed this camera???

The grip on the 4xx range of cameras is just too small to be comfortable for anything other than a few minutes. The ones on the x0 range are much chunkier and nicer to hold.

Great mechanicals and sensor though.

But I wouldn't swap my Sigma SD-14 for one.

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DARPA's Heliplane retrocopter project in trouble

Mike Richards
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Rotodyne

If I recall the Rotodyne was very noisy when the engines were ignited, but not much noisier than a regular helicopter once up and running. The design team were certainly in the process of making further silencing changes when the project was cancelled.

Rotodyne, Blue Streak, VC10, TSR2, Emma Peel and Thunderbirds - just how cool was Britain in the 1960s?

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Bonce-antenna education downloads foreseen in 30 years

Mike Richards
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@Chris Miller

Can I also add my prediction that in 30 years time house prices will be up - or down. The FTSE will certainly be up by 5000 or down by 5000 or some number in between and 'Duke Nukem Forever' will be available RSN.

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Heathrow T5 security tackles Transformers t-shirt threat

Mike Richards
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Not so much security theatre...

...as security panto.

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The New Order: When reading is a crime

Mike Richards
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@ Joe K

The document was - wait for it - ON THE READING LIST.

That is a list of documents you are *expected* to read in order to have sufficient knowledge to pass the course.

NOT reading the books puts you at a serious disadvantage.

The department and university chancellor's department have acted like total cowards. When the download was brought to their attention they should have investigated the department, found the book was on the list and taken it no further. They should hold their heads in shame.

As for the comments by the frighteningly sane Alan Simpson MP. I assume he's tolerated by the politburo to show that New Labour is not a totalitarian organisation.

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