3337 posts • joined Wednesday 28th February 2007 21:13 GMT
Novel collision between 'legitimate journalism' and 'Paul Dacre'
Could this be anything to do with the fact that the Mail was one of the few papers that didn't crucify Brown over his recent decision to abandon an election?
Not to mention that wooing the Mail has been a staple New Labour policy since before they came to power. With Dacre being allowed to set government policy on the media, Brown can be sure he won't get too many Mail editorials gushing about Cameron.
Errr if you're so annoyed about the format war caused by two incompatible formats why aren't you demanding that Blu-Ray is abandoned? The DVD Consortium named HD-DVD as the official follow-on to DVD *before* Blu-Ray was even demonstrated. HD-DVD finalised a standard and shipped players before the rival camp had even decided what should go into a Blu-Ray spec (and by the state of recent events even the specification is still up for grabs).
Blu-Ray was nothing more than an attempt by Sony to own the entire media production cycle from content creation through to encoding, licencing, disk manufacture and playback devices. It's also incredibly customer unfriendly. If Blu-Ray wins, we all lose.
As for Microsoft, they were a founder member of the HD-DVD group so they are hardly meddling in the market.
But I do agree with you on one point, Microsoft definitely sees XBox Live as the way of delivering high definition content to the home. The market is theirs to take and they'd be foolish to lose the download market to Apple for a second time.
Hotol Mk II
'Ello, ello, ello, this looks vaguely familar - why it's a revamped version of lan Bond's Skylon which was a revamped version of Alan Bond's Hotol - the British space plane that was going to revolutionise travel in the 1980s.
The clever bit about Hotol was that its engine could be reconfigured in flight to switch from low-altitude air breathing to a true rocket. The not so clever bit about Hotol was that it was British and therefore doomed by lack of funding and vision.
Third time lucky folks?
Clearly I'm missing something...
...by 2012 the public transport in London will be so wonderfully prompt, welcoming, safe, clean and commodious that it will be able to accommodate millions of Londoners, commuters, tourists and anyone fancying the East End drugfest...
...but not so wonderfully prompt, welcoming, safe, clean and commodious that it can be used by Coe, Blair (he'll be there, stake his wife on it) and their assorted cronies.
@ Sceptical Bastard
Don't fall for the disinformation...
The movie WAS made in 1960, but the cost of the time machine (you didn't think it was a prop did you?) almost forced George Pal into bankrupcy. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so late one night he sneaked on to the set, travelled back to 1890 and published a book of the same name under the pseudonym H.G. Wells.
Not only was he able to rely on his royalties to fund the movie, but he cut an excellent deal on adapting his screenplay for 'War of the Worlds' into novel form (although purists complain the book lost something by being recast in Victorian England).
BT bad for lifestyle
The amount of time I've had to sit around waiting for someone at BT Total Broadband's helpdesk to pick up the phone* must have seriously affected my lifespan. Then there's the effect of all the stress and pure blinding rage produced when they do bother to answer.
* Their current record of keeping me on hold was enough time to build 3 Ikea bookshelves and a futon. Anyone able to beat that?
Warning from the future
Anyone who has seen the 1960 version of the 'The Time Machine' knows that mankind's future is split between brain-dead blonde imbiciic Eloi and thuggish troll-like Morlocks.
So now we know where the former group originates, the only question remaining is 'has anyone seen Johnny Vegas with a Cryonics brochure?'
"Consultation has taken place with the Counter Terrorist Command of the Metropolitan Police (SO15), the Security Services [MI5, MI6 and GCHQ]... [and the] Serious and Organised Crime Agency..."
But the citizens must never be consulted. National Security don't you know. Besides, they'd only panic - bless.
Re: Ozone depletion and wind patterns.
Actually it's not so unlikely as you might think. Since ozone absorbs solar energy in the UV part of the spectrum, any decline in ozone concentration means that more UV travels deep into the atmosphere where it acts to heat the lower stratosphere and upper troposphere - precisely the places where major wind patterns develop.
If you can stomach a scientific paper, there's a good summary at:
Easier way of doing it...
Each person entitled to enter the HoC has one finger surgically removed (at an NHS hospital of their choice - thus ensuring the government's choice agenda).
Assuming this doesn't result in an unfortunate by-election caused by the government's choice agenda, a dirty mop and a particularly enthusiastic strain of C. difficile, they are now 'enrolled in the system'.
The finger will then be conveyed in a chauffer driven car (a hybrid naturally) to Westminster where in an ancient and deeply moving ceremony, it is preserved in formaldehyde (or pickling vinegar - whichever is the most cost-effective solution) and conveyed to a shelf next to the main gate.
Whenever an MP wants to turn up with a wheelbarrow to collect their expenses cheque, they will show their remaining nine fingers. The highly trained security staff will compare the fingers being waved in front of them, with the gherkin like collection on the shelf. If they are unsure, they will be able to don the 'Rubber Glove Intransigent' and try to match each preserved finger against the stump in question.
Any jihadi wanting to get into the Palace of Fools would not only have to sacrifice a finger of their own, but they'd have to make sure their finger size matched that of the MP they were impersonating.
If anyone wants to vote me a couple of billion for feasibility trials, please pop the sum (in used fivers) under a brick in the usual place.
EDS - I'm shocked?
If EDS. why not Groucho, Harpo, Zippo, Chico and Gummo?
Ah the RAF is looking towards the time when our little robot friends have pushed the handlebar moustache brigades out of their cockpits and a whole lot of wannabe-Biggles will be looking for work. So rather than go and get useful jobs somewhere else, they want taxpayer tin cans to keep them in the Right Stuff.
The US had this debate almost 50 years ago when the Army, Navy and Air Force all squabbled over who would run the high frontier.
In the end the first American to go into orbit turned out to be a Marine.
@ John A Blackley
Who asks quite reasonably 'What have those ingenious French navy types come up with that is "more humane".'
Carbonated fois gras
I assume this is a plot by Greenpeace to close down air travel?
They've finally found a way of way of making veal-class travel even more unpleasant. If inedible food, random security scares and the 'welcome to America' cavity search ideology hadn't driven people off planes, what could?
US / UK pricing
The price difference between the two regions is less than it appears.
US prices don't include sales tax which is imposed at a city or state level but ranges from 0% in Montana, (where you'd be hard pushed to find a PS3) through to about 10% in Chicago.
But a far bigger cost to Sony is that US warranties run for shorter periods (often 90 days) and are far less extensive than those offered as standard in Europe. So we pay more for better protection.
But, yes, it'd be nice if Sony at least offered early PS3 users some form of rebate on their purchases.
' The Laser Avenger'
That has to be the name of one of Stan Lee's less well-known superheroes. 'Mommy, I wanna Laser Avenger(TM) action doll with light-up Freedom Eyes(TM) and Cheney Deathgrip(TM) action!'
A few weeks ago there were no plans to debate the issue, now the Home Office wants a discussion. Is it too cynical to suggest we're being softened up for a government bill setting up a compulsory DNA database. Of course it's an interesting philosophical question whether you can be too cynical about New Labour.
@ Mad Mike
Actually it matters a great deal.
*If* the police subsequently altered the publicly-released image of De Menezes so that he more resembled a terrorist suspect, it can only have been an attempt to make their actions seem more 'reasonable'.
As you mentioned, the Met made a number of misleading statements about the shooting, but this, if proven, would be an outright case of deliberate deception.
Eeeeh it's like the 1970s all over again
Those of us old enough to remember the Skylab era of space travel will also remember the beautiful paintings NASA produced showing the future of (freedom loving) space travel...
Isle of Wight-sized solar power stations were a staple feature alongside space stations good knows how many kilometres across sitting at the Lagrange Points, lunar bases mining the regolith for rare alloys and (best of all to a small boy) electromagnetic cannons hurling all that booty back to Earth.
If you can find the July 1976 issue of National Geographic you'll see most of these paintings alongside a feature written by Isaac Asimov about how wonderful life would be in the early 21st Century. So off the mark it makes 'Tomorrow's World' look like the Oracle of Delphi.
Mind you, part of me is still disappointed that Gerry Anderson's view of the future never happened - the World needs more incredibly fragile but incredibly cool technology. Electromagnetic cannons on the Sea of Tranquillity? yep works for me!
Greenpeace and science
Seems their love affair with scare 'em headlines has continued unabated since the days of the Brent Spar.
2 minutes to lock on to GPS?
You lucky, lucky thing! I took the N95 on a walk through open countryside and it managed a lock after no less than 20 minutes!
By lock, I mean sort of lock - it placed me 200m from my actual position on the wrong side of the Grand Union Canal, but that's practically USAF levels of precision.
It *might* have got better recently, but since I don't have a Windows box I can't update my uberbrick to something more useful than a paperweight.
Still, only three weeks until the iPhone after which the temptation to reaquaint the N95 with the Grand Union Canal might just become overwhelming.
Blu-ray the techno turkey
How many more of these updates are going to come along before Blu-Ray actually has a decent specification? We've had a series of incremental updates that have caused no end of trouble for people with early players - first no network support, then inadequate Java provision, now more features being crammed in.
Blu-Ray was always a spoiler designed by Sony and Pioneer to give themselves more influence over the high definition market. HD-DVD was an agreed standard long before they dreamt up this new, customer-hostile format.
If there was any justice, HD-DVD would be the winner in this war, but as it stands, they're both going to lose out - first to DVD, then to direct downloads.
Red Arrows would spoil the show
We're going to be following Beijing where they've even organised the weather - how can we compete? We can't, so let's not bother. Let's be honest, this country's motto should be: 'Britain - it's a bit crap'.
I want my Olympic opening ceremony to be jaw-droppingly, etched on the soul of humanity awful. ITV1 small hours of the morning bad.
Formation morris dancing, the Spice Girls, old maids on bicycles (see previous item) acting out the London Underground map, pearly kings and queens singin' round the old joanna, synchronised carjacking - and scripted by Russell T Davies. All performed in the half-finished Tessa Jowell Mortgage Memorial Stadium in front of acres of empty seats (and still more acres of places where seats should be, but B&Q didn't deliver in time) - the audience still being forced to go through their Home Office approved cavity searches. The whole grisly spectacle glimpsed through a frigid summery downpour by the light of eBayed fireworks.
Then the whole steroid powered running and jumping show has to be called off when the remains of a 'we're all friends now' V2 is discovered under the winner's podium - ensuring the country descends into that peculiar mix of farce and jingoistic outrage which typifies modern Britain.
Anything less and it'll be a crashing disappointment.
'And surely the verb to be *can't* be regularised can it? Does anyone know of a language where it is?'
I believe the Swedish 'vara' is a completely regular form of 'to be'- 'är' in the present, 'var' in the past.
The remainder of Swedish is of course completely random.
I'm sure our Viking friends will be along shortly with a shed-load of corrections.
Too easy, too easy...
Quoth the eagle : "Some open source projects cannot meet our needs for quality or security, and we are not prepared to compromise on those,"
So they insist on Windows 'solutions'.
BBC and Lonely Planet
Agree with the majority of the people here - that was pure Sky-spin.
It's worth pointing out that Lonely Planet was bought by BBC Worldwide, the commercial part of the BBC and not with licence payers' money.
It'd be nice to see where all Sky's revenues go. Precious little into programming I suspect; unless that perennial Sky One staple 'Ross Kemp on Gangs' is a lot more expensive than it looks.
"You can go everywhere without worrying about your driving skills."
Once again Milton Keynes is the city of the future. Drivers round here have been doing that for years.
I got to fly a South African vulture at the Shuttleworth estate in Bedfordshire - what a fantastic bird; it'd make a great pet.
Not because it would be great company, but because it'd help thin out the local population of homicidal yapping bog-roll warmers currently carpeting the park with their crap.
BBC Technology correspondents strike again
Once again the media studies graduates in the BBC's technology department take a press release issued by a company and regurgitate it wholesale thinking they're informing the world.
This is a solution groping in the darkness for a willing problem.
There is no problem because a: there are no space tourists, b: there's nothing to spend money on up there.
But in any event it would be much easier to adopt the approach used on cruise liners. When boarding the passenger's credit card is swiped and they are issued a payment card for use on the ship. The ship only accepts the onboard payment system and everything is reconciled at the end of the trip. Extending this to the Starship Titanics of the future hardly seems impossible.
After all, your chances of survival in a 1950s Earth overrun by flesh-eating, body-snatching, stomach-churning, lip-smackin' aliens are much higher than your chances in contemporary Manchester.
Graphite control rods?
Errr no, the control rods weren't to blame, and certainly weren't made of graphite.
Instead, the fire was caused by the reactor's graphite moderator overheating. A real problem for graphite reactors is that energy becomes trapped in the crystal lattice of the graphite blocks. This not only causes them to distort, fouling the fuel and control rod channels; but it can also be spontaneously released as a blast of heat that could wreck the reactor.
This Wigner energy can be released by allowing the reactor to heat up above its normal operating temperature, the graphite blocks expand slightly and settle back into their normal shape, the excess energy being released gradually as heat.
However, this annealing was botched, the operators didn't know that parts of the graphite had become far too hot, and they allowed the process to continue, during which some of the cans of metallic uranium fuel split open. Uranium burns fiercely in air - which is unfortunate since the Windscale reactor was cooled with the stuff.
The later Magnox and AGR reactors continued to use graphite moderators but removed the risk of fire by using uranium oxide fuels and carbon dioxide coolant.
Software update on Blu-ray
No worries, just download the patch...
...the initial Blu-ray spec doesn't require players to have a network port.
Ah, time for Plan B then.
Score another plus for HD-DVD then.
'We are a little confused tough, as to how you would spot a jetlagged hamster. From our own childhoods we seem to remember the damn things spent virtually 24 hours a day sleeping, or hiding in a plastic boot.'
Don't they spend practically all their lives being dead?
If this goes through we can all look forward to the Severn becoming a huge semi-stagnant pond of industrial waste, oil and fertiliser slopping gently back and forth; smearing a turbid slick of fermented sewage from Middle England, Cardiff, Newport and Bristol across the beaches of Minehead and Weston Super Mare.
Sounds a major improvement to the region.
'Whats next FFS abiogenesis of oil'?
Strange you should mention that - abiogenic petroleum still has its believers.
Thomas Gold's Mantle methane hypothesis suggests that organic molecules have migrated upwards from the deep interior and becoem trapped in shallow structures. There was an intriguing project in Central Sweden where the state energy company Vattenfall drilled several kilometres into the igneous rocks of the Siljan Ring. The rocks at that depth should have been devoid of hydrocarbons, but in fact the well recovered around 100 barrels of an oily substance whose chemistry suggests it did NOT come from the overlying sediments or had migrated from conventional hydrocarbon reserves.
AFAIK there has never been a satisfactory answer to what came out of the Siljan Ring.
The MMT still has some adherents in Russia and amongst those who believe that the suggested source rocks for Arabian oil could never have produced so much petroleum. But it's fair to say that 99% of geologists think the tiger in your tank started with pond slime.
So not only am I annoyed that SendIt didn't get my pre-order to me by the release date, I can now look forward to it not working when it does arrive.
With any luck I might get to play it by Christmas.
Doesn't make sense
There's no way Sony could make serious inroads into the price of the PS3 without compromising the compatibility of the machines.
It can't reduce the number of Cell processors without interfering with the development of games - the dev kits are already out there with seven processors. And the last thing the machine needs is any interruption to the trickle of games arriving to market.
It can't scrap the Blu-ray drive. Not only is BD Sony's trojan horse into everyone's living room, its the money spinner they need for the next decade - owning the patents, codec, pressing plants and distribution system for media is how Sony intend to remain rich into the future. But also, PS3 games are being shipped on BD - there's no way companies would switch back to DVD, they'd abandon PS3 first.
Strip out components? Which ones cost enough to make a real difference? A 20Gb drive isn't much cheaper than an 80Gb model, WiFi is a couple of pounds, USB must be a pittance by now. I strongly suspect there is no fat to be cut on the PS3. Thye have to wait for volume and Moore's Law to push down the price of the high value components.
And it can't afford to subsidise the console further, the PS division is barely breaking even at the moment, the rest of Sony isn't nearly as healthy as it once was. The shareholders aren't ready to take a loss.
Sony has to wait it out and hope the differences between PS3 and 360 start to become apparent in the market. The next year or so the differences won't be huge, greater power in PS3 will be matched by (programming expertise with the 360 (which is producing some stunning games right now) but I'd expect that increased familiarity with the PS3 development environment will show up by the time E3 comes along next summer. Then the PS3 might become the console to own for the next gen (next next gen?) experience.
Their biggest problem is that Sony seems to have inherited Microsoft's old marketing team. Just as Microsoft unveil some seriously cool marketing around the 360, Sony deliver - well, the PS3 adverts. Dreadful, horrible, nasty, unintelligible - doesn't even begin to cover their marketing. Where are the TV ads for the games? Where are the playable demos? Where are the posters?
What must worry Sony is the possibility that Microsoft will to gain a jump start on the market by announcing a 360 successor ahead of the usual product cycle. It worked for 360 and gave the console 18 months in the market without a serious rival. Do it now and people might hold off PS3 entirely waiting for the next console. It must be tempting to try and push on with another XBox, but the strategy has been horrifyingly expensive - even for Microsoft. The XBox division is still not profitable and they've just taken a massive hit over shoddy, rushed to market hardware*. What would a reliable XBox 720 cost to develop and market? No idea, but the price will be well in excess of 'ouch!'
* That's one thing Sony have got right - the PS3 has the quality you expect from Sony. It's beautifully finished, quiet, cool, compact and comes sans huge power brick. And there doesn't seem to an equivalent of the red ring of death. They should be proud of the engineering in the machine.
'This means I am a qualified F1 driver, and rally driver too. And I am a qualified pilot, and astronaut.'
Thanks for that. I've just realised that my 'Populous' training means I am a fully-fledged deity!
Cool. Now who do I smite first?
Re: Douglas Aviation
Maybe Douglas was good, but McDonnell Douglas produced the notorious DC10 - a plane which had a fatal design flaw in its cargo door (which opened outwards). The door blew open in flight on at least two occasions in early service, on one occasion the plane was brought back safely, on the other, in 1974, over 300 people died near Paris. Then there was the bad design of the hydraulic lines in the tail which meant that all of them could be lost (as happened at Sioux City in 1989).
The DC10 was eventually almost fixed, but it didn't really ever compete against the 747/767/777.
The reason you don't find so many elderly Boeings is that they've been forced out of service by ever more stringent noise regulations at most Western airports - hence the 707 and 727 are pretty much extinct. Comparing Boeing airliners to the DC3 is pretty unfair - the DC3 was replaced as a front-line airliner in the middle of the 1950s and those that soldiered on work far less hard than modern airliners in much more benign circumstances. There are plenty of 40 year old Boeings still in everyday service.
Problems with ICBMs
Is that they pop up on radars of countries like China, Russia, India and Pakistan making them all nervous that they're about to be wiped out in a thermonuclear barbecue.
Some of these countries have such poor command and control systems that the threshold for them to launch their own missiles at the enemy du jour is very low. By the time they realise the American missile was actually heading somewhere else, they've inadvertently started a nuclear war.
Which would be a bad thing.
This was the reason the Pentagon recently shelved plans to refit Trident missiles with conventional warheads.
A hypersonic bomber (how Gerry Anderson is that???) won't risk us all developing body cancer when Hillary Clinton's successor decides to bomb a random country in Central Asia.
Nappy-wearing psychopaths need not apply.
I've got an N95 and I'm baffled by the rapturous comments it seems to attract from (if it were an Apple product would be called) fanbois.
The N95's build quality is pretty indifferent for a phone that was released at the £600 mark (how many people have commented on the shock news a fairly elderly handset costs less than a new one?)
The N95 was released unfit for market; its software stability was only fixed in the latest (PC only) software update. The call quality is only so-so, WiFi reception is frankly shocking, but is immeasurably better than the 20 minute lock-on, if you're lucky, GPS.
But most of all, the reason the N95 isn't a terribly good phone is that it has an appalling, illogical user interface. Options are buried who knows how many levels deep behind a sluggish interface that is accessed through a key layout designed for a phone ten years ago.
I've spent time with the iPhone and it is a better smart(ish) phone than the N95. Not because of its technology, but because the thing actually works in a timely intuitive manner.
And, yes, I will get one.