* Posts by Mike Richards

3608 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Thief swipes cabinet minister's laptop from Salford office

Mike Richards

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

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

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

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

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

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

@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

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

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

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

@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
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

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

@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

@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

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

@ 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

@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

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

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

@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

Not so much security theatre...

...as security panto.

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The New Order: When reading is a crime

Mike Richards

@ 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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EU project scans air passengers for terrorist tendencies

Mike Richards

Oh this is going to work well...

...what with the introduction of mobile phones on flights.

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ISS toilet spares stowed and good to go

Mike Richards

Tom Wolfe...

This would have made a lousy sequel to 'The Right Stuff'.

BTW. If you want to remember the glory days of space travel, the excellent 'In the Shadow of the Moon' is on Channel 4 tomorrow night at 20:00.

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Apple mega update strikes out calendar bug

Mike Richards

@Dan Beshear

The difference in size is also down to whether you are using a PowerPC machine or an Intel Mac. The 10.5.3 Intel update is the 420Mb monster.

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Tories would have to compensate ID vendors

Mike Richards

@JonB

Sorry but it is the case that one Parliament can simply undo any statute by passing a further Act of Parliament. In legal terms, there is no such thing as 'entrenchment' in UK legislation; all laws are equally easy to repeal. This has a good side and a bad side. It does mean that any bad laws can be struck out in the future by a simple majority; but it also means that no rights or guarantees laid down in statute can be guaranteed. So for instance, although the people of Gibraltar or Northern Ireland have been told they will always be part of the United Kingdom, there is absolutely nothing to prevent a future government reneging on that. The same for ID cards, nuclear power stations, Blue Streak or aircraft carriers.

This is different from say the American system where the Constitution has greater legal weight than any other law and can only be amended, and even then only by a protracted process involving the state legislatures as well as Congress.

The Tories could simply introduce a bill called 'The Identity Cards Act, Repeal Bill' which stipulated that the previous act was no longer on the statute books and laid out a process for ending its terms. Once it had passed through Parliament and obtained Royal Assent (a formality actually performed by the Speaker), the Identity Cards Act would be nothing more than a legal curiosity.

As for long term projects being cancelled on the whim of a government, you just have to look back to the 1960s to see how new governments took great pleasure in cancelling ongoing projects favoured by the previous administration. Any project can be cancelled at any time; although penalties *may* be due on cancellation.

In practice bills that repeal legislation are quite rare since Parliamentary time is limited and governments much prefer to add new legislation to the books than get rid of old stuff.

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Mike Richards

Might be a way round it

I'm not a lawyer, but its part of what laughably passes for a constitution in this country that no Parliament can bind its successors. In effect, the ID Card Act can be repealed simply by passing another Act of Parliament. So surely a suitably drafted bill could be passed into statute that cancelled the scheme without compensation to 'stakeholders'.

Or the Tories could simply refuse to pay, say they've just moved in to the place and the bailiffs can chase the previous occupants. Though they may not be able to get their money back, between Blunkett's paternity payments and stories circulating today that the finances of the Labour Party are about to go boo.com in the next few weeks, there won't be much left.

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NHS IT loses key contractor

Mike Richards

'Mathew Swindells' ???

Too many jokes, so little time.

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UK electricity crisis over - for now

Mike Richards

Slight correction

Although Longannet is capable of producing over 2GWe, much of the plant had been shut down for maintenance, so the loss was only about 350MWe.

Now will there be a baby boom in February 2010?

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UK to outlaw cartoons of child sexual abuse

Mike Richards

Quick question

(Sorry forgot to ask in my previous comment)

Does this mean the 2012 Olympics logo is now illegal?

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Mike Richards

Our five year mission...

Since there are no real crimes being committed any more, New Labour is moving on to made-up ones. What fun they must have in the

The Criminal Justice Bill in the Queen's Speech will make it illegal to be a member of Slitherin House beyond the confines of Hogwarts; to be a werewolf; to manufacture, use, possess or distribute the Philosopher's Stone; to cause nuclear explosions, or to hunt dragons without a licence and full professional insurance.

Oh crap, I forgot, New Labour actually wasted time introduce and passing a bill making nuclear explosions illegal. 'Mr Dibbock, dressed in a hooded top and trainers, spoke only to confirm his name and address. The magistrates remanded him on bail to appear at the Crown Court next month accused of laying waste to most of the prettier parts of Suffolk, damaging a bird sanctuary, breaking a window in a listed property and causing half a million agonising deaths from radiation sickness.'

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Yet another hole found in BT Wi-Fi router

Mike Richards

This is bad - really bad...

This router is now so insecure my personal data will be stolen long before it gets to Phorm.

PS. 45 days since I filed a DPA request with BT about the Phorm trials and no response. I think it's time to talk to the Information Commissioner.

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Phoenix beams back Martian postcards

Mike Richards

@Slaine

;)

Polygonal terrain is common in the tundra of Earth. It's caused by the freezing and thawing of water in the soil. As waterlogged soil frrezes, it expands and pushes coarse material upwards and outwards. Gradually, the middle of each polygon becomes dominated by fine grained icy soil while the borders of the polygon become piles of pebbles and grit. They look spookily like dry stone walling for lemmings, but we know they're natural and the process has been modelled by (here comes the IT angle) computers.

Seeing them around Phoenix isn't a complete surprise as polygons have been observed from Martian orbit before, here you go:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/martianterrain/MOC2-315_release.html

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Home Office hands over £50m for police mobile devices

Mike Richards
Coat

Here's an idea

Any chance of Asus getting the Eee's best friend to pose in a WPC uniform?

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For truth about Europe, read The Reg

Mike Richards

Sterling's next novel - exclusive behind the scenes preview

It's the thrilling fast-paced adventures of N - a cybernetically enhanced supermodel whose anger-management chip failed after she was trapped in an exploding cyberloo. Pursued across Europe by the Laguna deathsquads, her only hope lies with Professor KW, the British pioneer of the cyborg society. I've heard there's also a hot, hot, hot sex scene with sulty transatlantic temptress P and an intelliDyson.

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National Grid computers locked-down in outage cock-up

Mike Richards

To Osama...

...don't bother, we're doing a great job on our own.

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Government announces shortlist for ID card contracts

Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward

'Democracy, freedom, liberty...?!?! '

Has anyone noticed the Home Office has stopped using their slogan 'Building a Safer, Just and More Tolerant Society'?

Were they afraid of being sued?

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Mike Richards

A much better solution

Alan Sugar could set it as one of the tasks on 'The Apprentice'.

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NASA's Phoenix braces for Sunday touch-down

Mike Richards

@ John B

'Why didn't they implement airbags like they did on the Opportunity/Spirit rovers?'

Phoenix is a much larger and heavier probe than the rovers. If they had redesigned the same probe to use airbags there simply wouldn't have been enough room in the nosecone of the Delta launcher; whilst airbags + probe would have meant sacrificing some of the instrumentation in order to make the Delta's maximum payload.

A Russian Proton could have easily carried an airbag system and the Phoenix, but the Russians haven't had much/any luck with their Martian missions.

Retro-rocket landings have worked in the past, both the Viking landers used the same method to make their successful touch-downs, although they descended from Martian orbit rather than straight after arriving.

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The economy: A big Arab did it and ran away, claims PM

Mike Richards

A better comparison

Would be like a drug user demanding cheaper smack from their dealer.

We are addicted to cheap crude. Much of our society is built on having a ready supply of petroleum - from our housing developments to out of town shopping to pizza delivery. And there is a fundamental limit on how much oil can be hauled out of the ground.

Blaming OPEC is stupid. There are well-understood limits on how much oil can be pumped out of a field and how fast it can be produced. A good petroleum geologist can give you those numbers, and almost any geologist will tell you that the OPEC countries are lifting as much crude as they can without doing irreparable damage to their fields. In fact, some of the World's largest producers have probably already done damage to their fields - largely by depleting gas pressure - by trying to exceed these limits in earlier years.

With the dubious exception of Saudi Arabia, there is no more spare capacity left in the World. Even if the OPEC countries were to start drilling tomorrow, adding secondary and tertiary recovery to their existing fields and improving their infrastructure, it would take 5 to 10 years to get that additional oil to market, by which time there would be even more demand. And outside of OPEC, things are pretty bleak, all of the largest non-OPEC countries are facing declining production figures and the rate at which new reserves are coming on stream is slower than the slowdown in existing production.

And no amount of rhetoric from Brown, Bush and the rest of them can stop peak oil. It might be here, it might be 10 years down the road, but it's almost certainly within spitting distance.

Mind you, the next time you're bitching about the price of petrol, remember that an irreplaceable geological curiosity pumped from kilometres under the one of the coldest, stormiest, most hostile seas in the World, piped through hundreds of kilometres of steel, transformed through a miracle of organic chemisty into a useful product, is only slightly more expensive than milk.

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Teen battles City of London cops over anti-Scientology placard

Mike Richards
Flame

CPS

The plod said: 'Following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service some demonstrators were warned verbally and in writing that their signs breached section five of the Public Order Act 1986.'

Incredible, the CPS can make a judgement on that in minutes; yet 6 months ago one of my neighbours was racially abused in front of witnesses. We brought a complaint to the police who took statements and referred it on to the CPS - they still haven't come to a conclusion whether or not there will be a prosecution.

Guess we should have let Xenu into our lives to guarantee swift justice.

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UK.gov plans central database for all your communications

Mike Richards

Clearly a rebranding is needed

No longer will we have to put up with the old, backward-looking 'United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland', instead welcome to the sleek 'Airstrip 1.0 experience: brought to you by EDS'.

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