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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Ofcom plays precog on tomorrow's wireless world

Mike Richards

"A large asteroid impact or regional nuclear war"

Are actually the last two entries left in BT Total Broadband Technical Support's Bumper Book of Excuses as to why my ADSL connection is so shite.

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Air France pilot in white-knuckle near miss

Mike Richards

Kid in the cockpit?

One unanswered question - does this mean Air France still hasn't fitted secure doors to the cockpits, or, are Air France pilots doing a Gallic shrug to basic safety?

Come on El Reg, get your crack investigators on the job. A Playmobil reconstruction of what could have ensued if Naomi Campbell had got into the cockpit wouldn't go amiss either.

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White House admits non-existent email backups

Mike Richards

Easy solution

If anyone sent a message to, or received a message from, the White House between those dates, can they please send a copy of those messages back to the White House?

Say between 13:00 and 14:00 EST today. That shouldn't cause any problems. Well no more problems than simultaneously flushing all the toilets in the Pentagon.

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What did happen to all those London mayoral votes?

Mike Richards

Interesting article

Thanks.

One thing we should introduce over here (as well as PR, fixed term Parliaments, a single written constitution, proper separation of the legislature, executive and judiciary - really I could go on) are transparent ballot boxes. As it stands, voters have no way of knowing if the box they're putting their ballot into has been pre-stuffed. After the various postal voting scandals of the last few years the electorate cannot be expected to trust the politicians and the electoral authorities further than they can spit.

Oh and getting rid of numbered ballots that can be tracked back to individual voters would be a major step forward for British democracy.

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Franco robbed Sir Cliff of Eurovision win

Mike Richards

Confused now...

...does this denial of Cliff mean that there are some positive aspects to fascism?

Still this year is looking like a class bit of Eurovision - what with Dunstin:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1lIdd3VDBs

Mike.

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Freesat launches in UK

Mike Richards

Most pressing question

Is when Price Drop TV HD will be launched?

That alone will make HD worthwhile. 24 hours 7 days a week of unmentionable tat being flogged with the same desperate enthusiasm seen in Hitler's Bunker around May Day 1945.

And you know it's coming...

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Sun stock goes degenerate dwarf

Mike Richards

Next SGI?

One for the experts here. Is Sun just following SGI down the path to irrelevance? Both companies prospered when they could dominate a market with specialised hardware and software, but the commodity Intel boxes have pretty much eaten the market. Does Sun have a future in the hardware market?

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Phorm in phormulaic logo phorm storm

Mike Richards

Trademark law in a nutshell

Good Phorm have taken the trouble to register their trademark and have used the little R symbol. This gives them quite a lot of protection under the law - with one proviso (see below)

Bad Phorm have chosen to use the weaker TM on their logo. Anyone who wants to assert a trademark can include the TM. It does not need to be registered and no money changes hands. HOWEVER in exchange for being cheap, courts are unlikely to be sympathetic when that trademark comes into conflict with a registered mark.

There's an obvious risk of confusion - 'Phorm' is not a word in the dictionary (which is one defence out of the window - you could start a company called Apple and still be protected) and both companies are in the Internet business (which would be a problem if your Apple startup was a computer company).

If I was Good Phorm, I'd love to know how Bad Phorm can claim to have independently hit upon their logo design - right down to the font. That takes coincidence too far.

So the name and the logo of Bad Phorm could, and should, be seen as a case of 'passing off'.

Actually Good Phorm *MUST* defend their trademark. If they choose not to do so in this case, their mark is in danger of become genericised, in which case *anyone* can use it. Good Phorm need to talk to their lawyers as a matter of urgency and get them issue a cease and desist order against Bad Phorm ordering them withdraw their logo and cease trading under that name.

Bad Phorm can claim an innocent error, even blame their designers who may be liable for any costs of infringement. In any case it'd make sense for them to withdraw the logo and the name as they'd almost certainly lose in court.

And if Good Phorm they need money, I'm willing to throw in a £20 to the Register defence fund.

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Blu-ray-for-Xbox 360 rumours restoked

Mike Richards

Isn't it a bit late?

The 360 is just starting to make a profit. However, it is coming up to 3 years old and is starting to show its limitations in turns of pop-up and texturing. There is probably more to be squeezed out of it, but somewhere in Microsoft they must be looking at a third generation XBox.

Adding Blu-ray to 360 will increase costs, decrease profits and divert resources from the replacement whilst doing nothing to address the real issues of the 360 - it's going to look increasingly antiquated as developers get to grips with the PS3.

Finally, would anyone want to watch a Blu-ray movie with the 360 bellowing away? Mine came back from being fixed for the RRoD and it is noticeably noisier, so much so that it is impossible to watch a HD-DVD that hasn't been made by Michael Bay.

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Is the earth getting warmer, or cooler?

Mike Richards

Deep Time climate change

Yes folks, the Earth has been much warmer and much colder in the past. BUT the climate change concerns are not so much about absolute temperatures - after all we're a long way away from the subtropical Arctic of the Mesozoic - but the speed of change which *IS* abnormal. Typically, the geological record shows gradual swings between hot and cold, not the recent surge which appears be without a geological foundation.

And for those who point out the very warm periods of the past, at those times there was easy access to the polar regions for warm water currents bringing equatorial warmth to high latitudes. Since Antarctica slipped under the South Pole and the effective closure of the Arctic Ocean this is no longer the case. Our polar regions and the deep oceans are colder than at almost any time in geological history.

Finally, re: Gore's appointment of Dr. Hansen. If you were making appointments to scientific posts and not as ignorant as the current incumbent, wouldn't you appoint the most highly-regarded people in the field?

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Virgin Media distances itself from Phorm 'adoption' claims

Mike Richards

And BT remains quiet

Phorm reminds me of Br'er Fox's tar baby; everything it touches just gets dirty.

So that's TalkTalk and Virgin backing away from Phorm's phragrant offering, leaving just one of the big three still officially onboard. Does anyone think BT can or will extricate themselves from this fiasco?

BT have cashed the cheque for my Data Protection request, so I'm looking forward to their excuse for being unable to tell me if I've been pimped.

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School crossing guards join CCTV panlollycon

Mike Richards

Next step...

Give lollypop ladies rocket launchers.

YouTube hilarity to follow.

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Vultures crash out of the Indian skyscape

Mike Richards

Other problems

Because vultures are so swift and efficient at disposing of carrion there was almost no opportunity for dead animals to rot, attract vermin and contaminate water supplies. Now with fewer vultures, the carcasses are real health hazard and are attracting large numbers of rats and feral dogs - both of which carry seriously nasty diseases like plague and rabies. So the vulture might take a good number of people with it.

Any chance the Reg and its readers could help sponsor some of the work to save the vultures?

Which are much nicer animals than you might think. Surprisingly clean and elegant. (I can only speak first hand about the vultures, I'm much less sure about members of the Register's staff)

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Astroboffins moot massive Moon-mirror heliograph

Mike Richards

Back to the Future

There was a plan in the early 19th Century to do similar things to attract the attention of any Martians who might be watching. Huge heliographs, trenches laid out in geometrical formations and filled with burning oil, planting the desert in patterns.

Mr. Wells' book probably didn't help sell those schemes.

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French punters offered petite Eee PC rival

Mike Richards

A better comparison with the Eee

Would be if you provided a photo of this one in the company of la technocrumpet française.

(As well as a picture of the Eee with its beach friend for old time's sake)

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Mel Gibson to star in Edge of Darkness

Mike Richards

Classic Mel movie

After all, between being beaten up and radiation sickness 'Edge of Darkness' offers lots of opportunities for Mel's torture weird fetish.

Come on BBC, release a decent DVD transfer to show us how good it really was. The current version really sucks.

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UK elections vulnerable to fraud - e-voting no solution

Mike Richards

Photo ID?

Hmmm...

Don't have an ID card, can't vote.

Yep, I think New Labour will like this report.

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Natasha Henstridge braces for Impact

Mike Richards

It's still missing something...

...and I know what it is...

...Jean Claude van Damme as a time-travelling kickboxing cyborg samurai!

If he could also be a werewolf that'd be ace.

There's still time for David Lean wannabe Jonas Bauer to get him onboard, just give Jean Claude a call, I'm sure he'll be free.

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Harman hack horror has blog backing Boris

Mike Richards

Worth remembering this...

...the next time a government minister talks about the security of ID cards, why the police need 42 days to crack strong encryption or the protection they apply to CDs.

Then laughing very hard.

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'Extreme porn' law could criminalise millions

Mike Richards

The thinking behind this

New Labour is sinking in the polls like a luxury liner in the North Atlantic circa 1912. They need to win people back, so they need to win opinion-formers back. How to do that? Why announce an eye-catching initiative that on the surface no one could object to.

This law hands the country over to the Melanie Phillips wing of the Daily Mail.

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Apple blocks cheaper UK iPod sales

Mike Richards

It sucks - but...

On electronic goods the additional mark-up is largely down to the longer warranties in the EU.

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El Reg obtains snap of OGC logo reveal

Mike Richards

'dancing with the one-eyed sailor'?

Priceless!

Two quick questions:

1: Just how thick IS the Register's 'Little Book of Euphemisms'? And;

2: Where can I get a copy?

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Do biofuels cause famine? EU President opens probe

Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward

American ethanol *is* driving up the price of corn. At the moment about 20% of America's entire harvest is going into ethanol plants because the US government offers a subsidy of 51c per gallon on ethanol production - making it more profitable to push the crop that way than send it for export. With the Bush administration constantly upping the demand for ethanol this is going to continue. Whether farmers can increase production to match demand is another matter.

But there is some hope. Almost all of these ethanol plants are fuelled by natural gas - whose price is also spiking upwards, making them ever-less profitable.

The economics of ethanol in the US are so labyrinthine that no one can even be sure they're helping the environment and their contribution to the energy consumption of the country is minuscule. They exist for political reasons only, Iowa; home of the Corn Belt is the largest producer of corn in the World. It also has the first primary election in the US presidential vote. As an episode of 'The West Wing' showed, it is a stupid candidate who goes to Iowa and does not inhale the ethanol.

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Sky One to resurrect Blake's 7?

Mike Richards

Can we agree on one thing?

Even if my sensitive casting of Ross Kemp as Servalan isn't meeting universal approval, can we at least be unanimous on this...

The shape of the Liberator can't be changed in the slightest.

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Mike Richards

Sky One

So it'll be Ross Kemp as Servalan and David Jason as Travis.

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Anti-Scientology crusader vaporized from YouTube

Mike Richards

@ saatmarket

'Scientologists i met are nicest people on the planet!'

But *which* planet???

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HD DVD sales still solid despite format's failure

Mike Richards

It sucks HD-DVD died, but...

...I'm enjoying getting all these disks at less than £6 apiece.

At the moment you can pick up the Toshiba HD EP30 player for less than £100. It plays HD-DVDs in 1080p, supports Dolby TrueHD and upscales DVDs like a dream. If nothing else, it makes a perfect high-end DVD player and Toshiba are promising support for 8 years - by which time Blu-ray's replacement will probably be in sight.

A pity the more consumer-friendly format had to die to make HD affordable.

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Atom-based Eee PC to hit UK in June

Mike Richards

@Ashley

I have to agree, Asus can only hurt sales with these constant announcements. Right now, the Eee is in such short supply that they *can* sell all they make, but that will change as they ramp up production and competitors appear.

The Apple approach of 'no comment' until new models appear is better for the bottom line. They can sell old model machines right until the new ones roll off the production lines *AND* surprise customers *AND* reap the free publicity.

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'Virtual strip search' arrives at JFK and LAX

Mike Richards

@ GettinSadda

'Can we believe any of their claims if they can't even get the speed of the machine right?'

The lower throughput is down to them needing to do a price-check when the Pervatron scanner thinks you're a Sainsbury's own-brand oven-ready badger.

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PETA offers $1m for test tube chicken

Mike Richards

Moral dilemma for PETA

They really need to team up with the US military:

http://www.slate.com/id/2189468/

They're looking to make synthetic meat as well.

In a manner of speaking.

Mike.

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Evolution finds a home for recognition technology

Mike Richards

Exciting possibilities

Imagine if coppers had these!

'No, that's a Brasilian electrician.'

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eBay slams UK.gov touting ban

Mike Richards

Clearly a priority

Now that the Dear Leader has solved the trivial problems of taxation, terrorism, climate change, economic meltdown, and food and energy shortages, he can turn his attention to the big issues.

BTW. Is it just me, or does Andy Burnham look like he's made from plastic?

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Xbox 360 burns house down

Mike Richards

$100,000 damage?

In Arkansas?

You could burn down the whole state and still have money left over for a Baptist monster truck rally for that much.

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Korean astronaut recounts 'ballistic' Soyuz re-entry

Mike Richards

Ouch!

Some of the reports say they pulled 10Gs during their landing.

The nice thing about Soyuz is that it's a very forgiving design. A normal re-entry should use the capsule's shape to develop some lift and reduce the load on the passengers, but if something goes wrong, the ballistic trajectory ensures that they get home in one piece.

The modern Soyuz is a relative of the Soviet Soyuz 7K-L1 probes (with the spooky name Zond) sent around the Moon between 1968 and 1970. These were designed to become the first manned missions to pass behind the Moon beating Apollo 8. At the time the Soviets knew they couldn't beat America to the landing, but they could get some publicity for the missions and test their lunar hardware. However,problems with the capsules and the Proton booster caused the manned program to be cancelled.

One of the problems with Zond was that it had a nasty tendency to make ballistic re-entries in excess of 20Gs.

That'd be nasty.

Zond returned some stunning, and rarely seen, images of the Earth and the Moon, you can see a few of them at:

http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_CatalogMoon.htm

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Commodore goes titsup (again)

Mike Richards

Cursed I tell you! Cursed!

Does this company come with its own mummy's curse? Everything touched by the name Commodore or Amiga turns to crap.

We really should suggest they take over Phorm's operations.

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DARPA in search for five-year-mission solar wingship

Mike Richards

Video

I really, really like the overdue addition of music to the promotional video - before I heard the soundtrack I doubted the Vulture*, but now - I'm sold.

Do you think the final version will come with the huge spotlight shown in the video? It'll be really useful for when I come home late at night and I've forgotten a flashlight.

* Not you guys obviously.

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US gov may forbid BAE Eurofighter sale to Saudis

Mike Richards

Hmmm...

...would it be too low for American politicians to scupper the BAe turkey deal and then offer the Saudis a deal on F35s or F22s?

Yeah, yeah I know, rhetorical question.

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El Reg celebrates 10th birthday

Mike Richards

Disappointed...

I was expecting it in Playmobilivision

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This DVD will self-destruct in 48 hours

Mike Richards

Hmmm

There's a handy rule of thumb that the speed of a chemical reaction doubles for every ten degree increase in temperature. So it'll be interesting to see if people in Alicante are complaining their disks have gone tits-up before the 48 hours expires, and if the frozen inhabitants of Kiruna are smugly watching their disks for a week.

In any case - 48 hours is a lot longer than it takes to rip a copy.

Choose piracy; the ecological choice.

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BT's secret Phorm trials open door to corporate eavesdropping

Mike Richards

Sell! Sell! Sell!

Phorm's share price is a delight to behold. Whilst the FTSE 100 has pretty much moved sideways in the last few months, Phorm is now trading at about 1/3 of where it was in early March. Clearly investors don't have much faith in the brave new world of Webwise.

Long URL approaching:

http://www.iii.co.uk/investment/detail?type=&display=chart&code=cotn%3APHRM.L&it=le&timeframe=6m&index=li%3Acotn%3AUKX.L&versus=&linetype=line&Go=Plot+&overlay=&overlay2=&overlay3=&overlay4=&indicator=&indicator2=&indicator3=&indicator4=&chartwidth=500

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Oldham murders owl with whalesong

Mike Richards

Not trying hard enough

No lower case? No sans-serif font?

Amateurs.

I'd have done it properly for twice as much.

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Brit tourist blags his way onto Iron Man set

Mike Richards

Brit accent

Uh oh...

If a British accent in America can get you through the tightest security (and I can confirm it can get you a long long way) it can't be long before all al Qaeda operatives are sporting the finest Dick van Dyke accents.

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US law makers seek ban on in-flight calls

Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward

'If their flight was delayed and their wife was waiting for them at the airport are they still OK with that?'

Spookily, all the airports I've ever used possess strange devices called 'Arrivals Boards' which tell the cognisenti the estimated times a plane will land and even say if the flight has been delayed.

From experience, the people on board a plane are usually the last to know if their flight is going to be late.

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Women love chocolate more than password security

Mike Richards

Another survey

Has anyone thought of running the same survey to see if men are more willing to divulge their password for beer?

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X-48B mini flying-wing drone prototype resumes testing

Mike Richards

First blended wing

Like most things aeronautical, it was German. May I introduce the pre-war Junkers G38:

http://www.return2style.de/swingaring/amig38.htm

A passenger aircraft which could carry passengers inside the thick wings as well as the fuselage.

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Sony posts PS3 firmware 2.30

Mike Richards

Have both

But I'm using the PS3 more for a couple of reasons.

Noise - the 360 is just so intrusive, there is no comparison between the two of them when watching a movie or playing a game that doesn't have shooting. The PS3 is very rarely audible, the 360 roars. Put a HD-DVD in the 360's add-on drive and depending on the phases of the Moon the machine might just bellow for two hours so it's almost impossible to hear the dialogue.

Secondly, it's the reliability. My 360 has already been serviced once by Microsoft after the RRoD and they've replaced the inherently faulty motherboard with another one of the same model - so I suspect it'll fail again in short order. The machine's fan is already sounding rough after only a couple of weeks, so I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing went bang. If I get a choice of platforms I buy the game for PS3 because I'm pretty sure it'll be working this time next week.

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Schoolboy's asteroid-strike sums are wrong

Mike Richards

Don't panic Mr. Mainwaring!

I think I can clear up the confusion....

Geosynchronous satellites form a ring around the Earth's equator. (There are theoretically other geosynchronous orbits but these require the satellite to remain under some form of thrust such as that from a solar sail).

At closest approach the asteroid will be closer to the Earth than this orbit so if you draw it on a piece of paper it looks like there are two points where the satellite could crash into a satellite - one approaching Earth and one leaving.

HOWEVER, the 2D view is misleading. The asteroid's orbit is inclined with respect to that of the plane of the Earth's orbit, so those crossing points actually sit above or below the plane of the geosynchronous satellites - so no risk of collision.

Even if the asteroid did crash into the Astra satellite, tragically depriving millions of Ross Kemp and the new Gladiators, it'd have about as much impact (ahem) on the rock as the one-off interaction between a hedgehog and a Mondeo.

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Wii can conduct an orchestra too

Mike Richards

Sounds familiar (ahem)

Wasn't a virtual orchestra one of the Wii tech demos at E3 back in 2006?

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Terror on an Olympian scale

Mike Richards

And now the terror forecast

'The public should be kept permanently aware of the level of threat faced by the UK of terrorist attacks.'

'The outlook at midnight tonight. Politically oppressive with waves of extremism sweeping in from the Middle East here - and here. Generally there's a slight chance of ricin or caesium in the South East, so best take a gas mask and don't forget your identity card. And now the shitting forecast:

'Blunkett, scary becoming terrifying soon...'

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BT's 'illegal' 2007 Phorm trial profiled tens of thousands

Mike Richards
Flame

Liars

'BT has claimed that it has no way of telling which of its customers it Phorm profiled and served targeted advertising to.'

Clearly bollocks.

BT must have had some way of identifying users who were unwitting subjects of these trials. Suppose BT customers started complaining about the service, (okay, started complaining the service was worse than usual), BT would have needed to know if these problems were down to Phorm technology or to some unrelated issue, otherwise their engineers couldn't have solved the problem and they'd have no way of making comparison with un-Phormed users.

My DP request is with BT right now asking if I was part of their trial. I look forward to their response; especially if they say they've no idea whether I was press-gang-banged into their trials.

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