* Posts by Mike Richards

3615 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

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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Mike Richards

@ Matthew Hepburn

Unless you're using a very naive bank (in which case I have some friends in Nigeria who would love to meet you), all your bank transactions will be encrypted with https. Phorm can look at the packets all it likes, but it will only see garbage.

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Local council uses snooping laws to spy on three-year-old

Mike Richards

@Alex

'What exactly then is a council suppost to do then if it suspects fraud? Ignore it? Sit on their arses?'

'Suggestions please?'

Oooh I dunno, have someone from the education authority call the parents in for a nice chat/interview during which their address is discussed and they are reminded about the rules over catchment areas?

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Met police plans to track cops by GPS

Mike Richards

GPS???

Should work well just so long as London doesn't have any cars and buildings or a large subterranean railway network.

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Sony, MS want control of PS3, Xbox iPlayer, Beeb boss claims

Mike Richards

@Andy Turner

'“If you want to get [iPlayer] on the PlayStation or Xbox, they want control of the look, the feel and the experience. They want it done within their shop, and their shop only,” Huggers claimed"

'Seems fair enough to me.'

Clearly you haven't used the sluggish, buggy, unintuitive abomination that is the PS3 shop.

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US will sky spy-sat to eye spy-sats

Mike Richards

Might be a good thing...

...if it could also track debris clouds from exploded satellites and spent boosters which are the real threat to satellites.

I'm not sure about the claim in the article about needing to keep track of geosynchronous satellites - it's very unusual for a geosync satellite to ever move out of its destination slot, and when they're there, they stay put relative to the ground, so not much tracking needed.

Possibly the US is interested in satellites such as those that hang around in high, or the extremely elliptical Molniya orbits which are used by communication and reconnaissance satellites as well as the Russian Oko early warning satellites.

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Biologists track down elusive lungless frog

Mike Richards

James Bond

Now what would happen if you cover its skin with gold?

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Minister: Waste wood is 'huge potential resource'

Mike Richards

@Anonymous coward

Wood does decay naturally, but decay produces a good amount of methane which is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2.

Burning wood turns it into CO2 which can be captured by the next generation of trees.

Actually, the world's forests are currently largely being felled to provide land for soya and oil palm. So I prefer to blame deforestation on ecohippies and their biodiesel VW Beetles. ;)

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US Army cyber colonel in call to network arms

Mike Richards

Sounds like lyrics from an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical

"There was a day when we were operating at foot speed,"

"Now we're moving at cyber speed."

Think Tron on rollerskates.

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Ofcom reins in TV psychics and adult chat

Mike Richards

@Anonymous Coward

Get thee to eBay and find yourself a TiVo - the one true PVR.

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Information Commissioner: Phorm must be opt-in only

Mike Richards
Happy

@Sam

'What was the share high? I want to gloat at the difference, and you want to post it, admit it!'

Guilty!

You can keep track of Phorm's tanking shares here - it looks like the Matterhorn:

http://www.iii.co.uk/investment/detail%3Fcode%3Dcotn:PHRM.L&it%3Dle

It peaked £35.06 in mid-February, since then it's been downhill all the way with Phorm now trading at its lowest price in six months.

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Japan turning itself into Cyberman machine civilisation

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Look at Iceland they've had very low immigration over the last 1000 years and have a very 'clean' Viking gene pool but have a 'very' healthy population.'

Actually you couldn't have chosen a worse example. Iceland has a disproportionate rate of genetically determined mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and alcoholism precisely because of the limited gene pool of the original settlers. Conditions that would normally have been 'bred out' by a constant flow of new immigrants and the interchange of people have persisted in the gene pool simply because of Iceland's remoteness.

The relative health of the Icelandic population is a recent occurrence as their country moved from a pastoral/fishing society. Reports as recently as the 19th Century talk of how the Icelanders had a marginal existence. Cheap energy, access to global markets and the post-war Scandinavian social model of government are responsible for the modern healthy Icelander.

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UK child database is 'not fit for purpose'

Mike Richards

The reason they press on despite the evidence

It's a trend which really began under the crumbling Major administration, but which was turned into an artform under Blair. If a minister can show they stood up to a select committee / pressure group / Today programme it gives them serious kudos with the sheep on the backbenches. If they can do it by snarling and bullying all the better, it shows a vigorous government in action.

A minister who's seen to bend to any external interest is clearly not strong enough for the job and needs to be replaced by a more loyal member of the Politburo.

And if their policy turns out to be screaming disaster, it doesn't matter, a successful minister will have been promoted out of that portfolio and will be busy screwing up something else entirely. There's no better example than John Reid who was woeful in every job he did, pissed off everyone he ever met and left a trail of wreckage behind him - but didn't stop him being considered as PM material.

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Is Europe's war on Islamist terror running out of terrorists?

Mike Richards

Problem in the UK

Is that the government has drawn the definition of 'terrorism' so broadly that anything much beyond dropping a crisp bag is going to fall foul of one or another pieces of terror legislation.

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Scientology threatens Wikileaks with injunction

Mike Richards

@JonB

'Please don't think I'm one of them - I'm very definitely an atheist. Hubbard wrote it in '65ish I think. Which means the copyright is due to expire and then it's quite rightly a free for all, we can all grab a copy and set up our own whacky cults.'

'Dianetics' was first published in 1950, but it's copyright will belong to L Ron who went to meet Xenu in 1986. Under US copyright law, it will expire in 1986 + 70 = 2056. Unless of course a powerful, rich, well-connected organisation can persuade Congress to extend copyright again. Ah...

On an unrelated note, is there any chance we can get amanfrommars in a conversation with a Scientologist, or would that break the universe at a fundamentally weird level?

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