* Posts by Mike Richards

3603 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

UK.gov demands 999 ads on social networking sites

Mike Richards

Okay did this get held over from yesterday?

'It also found that 34 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds were happy to give out sensitive personal details including their mobile number and, or, email addresses.'

So the New Labour Net Nanny is appalled that millions of people are sending personal information to unaccountable organisations where that data might be misused, lost or stolen?

Imagine Jacqui Smith's reaction if someone suggested that it would soon be compulsory for people to hand personal information to an unaccountable organisation where that data might be misused, lost or stolen!

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Fixing the UK's DAB disaster

Mike Richards

Graph lies

The graph does *not* show a failing format; it shows a slowing rate of adoption - sales are continuing to grow but at a slower rate. There are a number of reasons, it could have been a technology that matured relatively rapidly and can't grow into a mass-market because the cost of receivers is noticeably higher than that for analogue sets, or it could be failing in the sense no one wants DAB at any price. But that graph proves nothing.

I have plenty of other problems with DAB, but to claim evidence based on that graph is misleading on a scale Alistair Campbell would be proud of.

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Blighty's Museum of Computing forced to go mobile

Mike Richards
Flame

Funding...

You just know if this had been a third-rate Italian knock-off sculpture of a sub-par Roman interpretation of a lost Greek original picked up by the syphilitic elder son of an 18th Century nobleman during a wine, poetry and all-you-can-eat shagging tour of Europe [deep breath]; then the know-nothing likes of Tessa Jowell and the great-and-the-good kleptocracy at the top of the arts world would have willingly blown ten million quid of public money to preserve 'an essential bedrock of British culture'.

Perhaps if we can show that a *BRITISH* BBC Micro was used to formulate the first foetid nugget of totalitarian policy at the Home Office, they'd consider computers to be 'an essential bedrock of British culture'?

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Assyrian clay tablet points to 'Sodom and Gomorrah' asteroid

Mike Richards

Sodom and Gomorrah

I love the fact a complete lack of archaeological evidence for either city ever having existed, doesn't get in the way of a media-friendly theory about their destruction. A shame they didn't go so far as to explain the halification of Lot's wife, but perhaps that's a follow up paper.

BTW. We all know about what was meant to be happening in Sodom, but what the hell was going on in Gomorrah?

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Jules Verne creeps up on ISS

Mike Richards

Jules Verne?

One of the greatest imaginations ever and his name is given to a cargo truck?

Couldn't we call it the L Ron Hubbard and celebrate each time it's consigned to fiery oblivion?

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Get your German interior minister's fingerprint here

Mike Richards

Don't count a victory just yet

Because if this does defeat current fingerprint readers, the companies will simply wail loudly and apply for more money from the public teat. Biometrics have become so much of an article of faith with the UK government that they can't be seen to lose face - bottomless amounts of taxpayer pounds will be made available to any multibillion pound company who needs the cash.

The security lobby is today's military-industrial complex - not that that's gone away. Hmmmmm Perhaps it's more accurate to say that the security lobby is the bastard child of the military-industrial complex and David Blunkett.

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Want to get into 10 Downing Street? Get a Lithuanian ID card

Mike Richards

Of course this would never have happened...

...if we had ID cards - oh hold on, something's wrong there.

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Botanist sues to stop CERN hurling Earth into parallel universe

Mike Richards

Credit where credit's due

An American has noticed what can be colloquially called 'the rest of the World'.

And it's thrilling to see commaed geography back in action 'Generva, Switzerland' - bless. The latest in a veritable Whicker of glamorous destinations, 'Paris, France', 'Venice, Italy' and everyone's favourite 'London, England'. Though it really needs a bit of stock footage for full effect - possibly a cuckoo clock or a vault filled with Nazi gold*.

*That's for Generva, Switzerland obviously; not Paris, France or London, England**.

** which can only be summed up by a consumptive Julie Andrews in a bowler hat.

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Send your loved one's ashes to the Moon for $10k

Mike Richards

@ Anonymous Coward

'Did Neil Armstrong et al bring their poo poos back with them or leave them behind?'

Worryingly, I know the answer to this one.

After rendezvousing back in orbit, all the trash and dirty nappies were loaded into the lunar module which was then crashed into the Moon for the benefit of geophysicists* and their seismographs.

* Children the lot of them.

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Mike Richards

@Matthew

We're pretty damned sure there's no life on the Moon, nor has there ever been. The US and USSR both returned samples from the surface and we have a large collection of lunar meteorites, which (amongst many other fascinating bits of geochemistry*) have one thing in common - they're completely anhydrous - there is no water on the Moon, either on the surface or in the minerals***, so no water for life. The killer temperatures and solar radiation would also do for organic chemistry.

And before anyone jumps on the story that bacteria were found on the Moon during the Apollo 12 mission to the Ocean of Storms...

Apollo 12 landed right next to the abandoned Surveyor 3 lander. The two astronauts took samples from Surveyor to see how it had withstood 18 months of radiation, heating, cooling and micrometeorite bombardment. When they were brought back to Earth, spores were found on some of the insulation. These were cultivated and found to belong to Streptococcus. For a long time it was believed that the spores had set when a lab technician assembling Surveyor had sneezed on the instrumentation, and that they had survived their exposure to space.

HOWEVER, this is now disregarded. The samples were not placed in biological isolation on their journey back from the Moon or on their way to the lab and it is far more likely they were contaminated on the way back to NASA. And experiments on the same species where they are exposed to freeze/thaw/dry cycles like those on the lunar surface always results in dead bugs.

* if you're a geochemist**

** guilty as charged

*** there *MAY* be some superficial ice at the Lunar South Pole carried by comets, although the evidence is somewhat patchy.

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T5 opening turns into Airplane 3.0

Mike Richards

Gets worse...

A friend who's trying to fly BA out of Terminal 5 just sent me a message saying that all check-in has been suspended.

Bodes well for Day 1 of the Olympics don't you think?

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First permitted in-flight mobile call made

Mike Richards

Reminds me of an IT joke

A passenger is sitting in an airliner using his laptop, and a message appears on his screen:

'Bluetooth: new device found: Airbus A310'

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Transgender man prepares to give birth

Mike Richards

Good luck to them...

...and get an agent with Channel 4 on speed-dial, they're always in need of new shock doc docs.

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UK's biggest meteorite impact rocked Scotland

Mike Richards

@The Prevaricator @Slaine

Silverpit is still not confirmed as an impact crater (and probably won't be unless someone stumps up the readies to drill it). There are problems with it being an impact structure because it doesn't resemble anything else on Earth - multiring craters such as those seen on the Moon and the Galilean moons of Jupiter are usually orders of magnitude larger than Silverpit.

There is a plausible alternative hypothesis that it is nothing more than a collapse caused by the withdrawal of the underlying Zechstein salt deposits.

@Slaine

Some of the reports are putting this as a 145 gigatonne explosion, it would have thrown enough crap into the air to darken the skies across the entire Northern Hemisphere, so yes, the good burghers of Inverness would have had plenty to worry about.

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Hutton: UK must become world No 1 in nuclear power

Mike Richards

Another example of joined up thinking

Hutton being a minister in the government that just flogged off state-owned BNFL's Westinghouse reactor-building business to Toshiba in return for a quick buck. So rather than the taxpayer (finally) getting some money out of BNFL, we're all going to have to pay to import technology we once owned.

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Virgin taps Boeing for 787 compensation

Mike Richards

@Edwin

Actually it's the pilot's decision whether he or she can fly the plane with a failed system. Some things (such as an inoperative engine) automatically rule out a take-off, but a plane can still be rostered if a suitably redundant component has failed.

If planes were grounded for not being in 100% working order, the airlines would have failed long ago.

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China unbans the Beeb

Mike Richards

Putting money on...

...the service being blocked the day after the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games when the Chinese government don't have to try and play nice any more.

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Religious MPs get free vote on hybrid embryos

Mike Richards

Extraordinary

The likes of Ruth Kelly and Des Browne were in the Cabinet that voted for war on Iraq and were expected to toe the government line, but when it comes to this all of a sudden their consciences are paramount.

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ICO queries Heathrow T5's huge fingerprint scam scan

Mike Richards

@Graham Dawson

More likely the culprit will be BAA who regard the whole airplane malarkey as getting in the way of turning airports into shopping malls.

Haven't you noticed that the ever-earlier time you need to turn up at the airport and the curious absence of seating in the departure lounge leaves you all the more time to mooch around BAA's crappy, overpriced shops?

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BBC Micro creators meet to TRACE machine's legacy

Mike Richards

Isn't the BBC Micro just a synonym

for 'middle class'?

Yeah after all these years I'm still embittered and jealous of the owners of these lovely machines.

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BBC races away with five-year F1 rights deal

Mike Richards
Flame

Undisclosed amount

How the hell is the BBC allowed to refuse to say how much they pay for people pottering around in motorised fag packets and wankers like Jonathan Ross? We all pay into their budget, it's only reasonable to know where it's going.

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Famous Five film lined up

Mike Richards

It gets better

The BBC article is either a: the funniest thing you've ever read, or b: the raping of your childhood.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7306752.stm

Now am I just being unduly cynical or do they all look more than a little like the cast of Scooby Doo?

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Mike Richards

Anyone else thinking of Thunderbirds the Movie?

In other breaking news;

Kirrin Bay is now Kirrinatoga, California!

They all have superpowers!

Everyone enjoys lashings of Coca Cola at the local McDonalds!

Timmy's a robot!

George's dad is a scientist working for an evil maniac in the secret volcano lair on Kirrin Island!

The American kid saves the day!

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V-22 Osprey combo-copter hits fresh tech snags

Mike Richards

Is it some rule in America?

That anything, no matter how small has got to have a flag-waving-salute-the-stars-and-stripes-gorge-rising patriotic theme?

'Osprey's AE1107C "Liberty" turboshafts'

Dear god in heaven above. What will I do when my MkIII "Iwo Jima" bezel gromit fails?

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Ofcom says yes on more TV ads

Mike Richards

Because American advertising is so popular

If this goes through, buy shares in PVR manufacturers. TiVo took off in the States when customers were told they could skip the adverts.

BTW. These regulations for seven minutes per hour - are they actually enforced? Watching Channel 4 at prime time it seems about double that when you include all the programme trailers, what's coming next, now on Film Four, oooh aren't we great we made Four Weddings and a Funeral half a lifetime ago, if you missed this then catch the repeat of the news on Channel 4 + pi, don't miss tonight's celebrity death shagfest live on E4...

And don't get me started on the cable channels.

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Mega-mortuary creaks open its doors in Westminster

Mike Richards

Other purpose

It could be used to store a large number of New Labour's backbench zombie army within easy lurching distance of Parliament for when they're needed to vote through a particularly gruesome piece of lorranorder legislation.

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Robo spy-zeppelin prototype in test flight

Mike Richards

Oh the humanity!

Is curiously absent.

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Phorm agrees to independent inspection of data pimping code

Mike Richards

There's one lot we haven't heard from yet

Try as I might, I can't find the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to browse free.

BT and Phorm claim there are untold millions of users who bending over, positively gagging to be pimped to the armpits.

But they're like Tony and George's weapons in Iraq - strangely elusive. In fact the harder you look for them, the more insubstantial they seem to be. The BT forums are in meltdown with customers outraged about WebWise; the same story over at Virgin and TalkTalk. Their support staff are being inundated by customers thirsting for the blood of Phorm.

But not a person who wants this on their system.

Has anyone spotted a pimpee in the wild? Perhaps the Reg could offer a prize for the first sighting?

Best be quick, the way things are going, Phorm won't be worth jack by the end of the month - not unless they can salvage their share price by merging with a classier outfit like thailadyboysluts.com

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Brown: Jack Bauer spook horde to tackle terrorism

Mike Richards

We're twice as safe as last year

But we still need ID cards and a whole lot more repression?

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ICO to focus on reducing risk, not enforcement

Mike Richards

Can but dream

"He also asked for the power to put an immediate stop to data processing by any organisation that he thought was "seriously unlawful""

In breaking news, the British government has been closed down by the Information Commissioner for repeated abuses of information technology, and is not expected to reopen. Reports that the Home Secretary is being dragged by members of Liberty to a small, portable gallows erected on Tower Hill cannot yet be confirmed.

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Captain Cyborg plans to milk you, human scum

Mike Richards

So he's back

I was getting worried because recent BBC IT programmes had started featuring the transatlantic swivel-eyed cyber-nutter Ray Kurzweil. He comes across like a character from the first draft of a Charles Stross novel, but rejected as being a little too extreme.

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Facebook says occupied territories are Israel

Mike Richards

@Anonymous coward

'How about that, we call Gaza 'Lesotho Palestine' and the West Bank 'Swaziland Palestine'. '

Hmmm I like the idea, but it's not quite accurate - you really want something more like the old bantustans where the Afrikaaners coralled the indigenous people without proper housing, resources or employment.

Since the names Bophuthatswana and QwaQwa are now up for grabs, it's be useful to rebrand the Occupied Territories as such and remind people that apartheid is alive and well in the Middle East.

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Brainchipped flesh-cloak cyborg bug-bug passes milestone

Mike Richards

I see the genius of this plan

Osama bin Laden's credibility will take a tumble when his latest Al-Jazeera blockbuster features him in moth-eaten rags.

It's genius when you think about it.

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Scotland Yard criminologist: DNA-print troublemaker kids

Mike Richards

Announcing e-phrenology.com

Okay who's up for creating a start-up?

The pitch is that parents / social workers / the rozzers can send in pictures of kids and we'll use a biometric / neural net / [insert cool tech name here] approach to examine the shape of their skull and categorise the little horrors into one of a number of fields.

Within moments, any child can be tagged for life as a good citizen or criminal scum.

I think we should get a top-notch board of executive directors including Gary Bushell and at least one former Home Secretary. The whole thing can be marketed with a charming animated Artful Dodger 'Oi'd have been on the straight an' narrow if that nice Mister Blunkett had felt me bumps!'

The next stage, a huge Home Office contract under their 'Building an Orwellian Tomorrow' outreach scheme.

So who's in?

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Lonely Paris Hilton seeks new best friend

Mike Richards

@ Jonathan

Actually of your three options I think I'd rather have my legs chewed off by the mosquitoes than be dragged into the latest Paris freakshow.

Hmmm do you think we could all club together and vote Lester into the show?

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Al-Qaeda seeks geek fanatics for Jihoo!

Mike Richards

Just a thought...

...could this move to televisual perfection be our best hope of finding Osama bin Laden?

After all, if the World's favourite terrorists have suddenly become more professional, then they must be employing qualified media developers. (How the Taliban handle the copious nose candy requirements of these people must remain something of a mystery).

Which means they must have advertised.

And adverts have return addresses for the CVs and application forms.

Ergo, we can close down al Qaeda by reading the Guardian's Media section.

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Security firms split over Phorm classification

Mike Richards

@ Geoff Mackenzie

'Or does this mean all Phorm victims will be asked first? Won't that kill this thing stone dead?'

If BT are any indication you'll get something along the lines 'BT Webwise is a free service for BT Broadband customers which will help protect you against online fraud and provide a more enjoyable experience.

'You're just moments away from a safer Internet, click [OK] to enjoy the wonderful world of BT Webwise; otherwise click [Cancel] if you feel more comfortable in the presence of hucksters and paedophiles.

'Even if you're a weirdo and don't want to use Webwise right now, you can always opt in to our service by calling 0845 KIDY FDLR and choose 'I'm a sinner and I need to be punished' from the menu.'

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MPs get £2k home cinema on taxpayers

Mike Richards

But on the upside...

...John Lewis is 'never knowingly undersold' so if any of our pork-barrelling representatives find their taxpayer funded lifestyle cheaper elsewhere, JL will refund the difference.

Which is a morsel of comfort isn't it?

Oh, no, it's not.

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UK gov unveils 'Innovation Nation' plans

Mike Richards

There should have been a warning at the top of that article

I think it approached a critical mass of business buzzwords.

My mind is bleeding and I still have no idea what they're planning. Does this mean I'll have to be culled?

And how the fsck does this fit in with John Denham's bright idea to kill funding for second degrees - precisely the thing needed if people are going to be re-trained as porters on the innovation platform?

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Microsoft denies Xbox 360 is Blu-ray bound

Mike Richards

What next for 360?

Oooh I dunno - how about one that works for more than a few months without red-ringing?

Okay, I'm grouchy, my latest one blew up this week and is waiting to go back to Microsoft for yet another brain transplant. Meanwhile the PS3 is starting to look just a little bit smug.

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Eurosecurocrat plans EU-wide stop'n'scan plodnet

Mike Richards

The real joy of this....

...is that it's being proposed by an Italian. If there is one thing reassuringly stereotypical about Italy it's that population's ingrained love of disregarding any legislation which gets in the way of la dolce vitae. I can't wait to see them try to work this proposal in the streets of Naples.

BTW. That's odd, this proposal's been around a few hours now, and still no enthusiastic gushing from the Home Office. You'd have thought the Blunkett Memorial Soviet would have announced a five year plan to ensure Britain was fully Orwell compliant by the time of the 2012 Olympics.

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A third of online shops undermine consumer rights

Mike Richards

@Anonymous coward re warranties

The UK legal situation is that warranties are IN ADDITION to your statutory rights which are laid out in the invaluable Sale of Goods Act 1979 (mainly Sections 13 and 14). Warranties exist between the manufacturer and the customer, but the contract (enforced by SoGA) is between the retailer and the customer. Your first resort should always to be to deal with the retailer under contract law - NOT the manufacturer with whom your relationship is much less strong.*

Goods out of warranty may still be found wanting under SoGA in that they may be defective or simply not fit for the advertised purpose.

SoGA does not lay down a maximum term for when it can be applied, but IIRC from my law lectures it is something like six years - but on a diminishing scale. Naturally wear and tear and reasonable lifetimes have to be taken into account before any compensation can be awarded. Interestingly, any goods that fail within six months of purchase are considered to have been defective when purchased (this applies from March 2003).

If goods fail after working for a while you are *not* entitled to reject the goods and obtain a refund; but you are entitled to a repair at the retailer's expense or a replacement item (unless the cost of the repair would be disproportionate or a replacement item cannot be obtained in which case you are entitled to a refund).

If goods fail immediately, do not work as advertised, or a reasonable amount of work cannot get them to work, then you are entitled to reject the goods as 'not fit for purpose' and either obtain a replacement or a full refund from the retailer. The retailer may not charge for this.

* Although EC law is strengthening the legal obligations of warranties and this situation may change in the future. Certainly 2 year warranties are becoming much more common as companies harmonise their conditions throughout the EU.

HTH.

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Patricia Hewitt joins BT as non-exec director

Mike Richards

Incredible isn't it?

MPs demand long holidays and expenses as compensation for their stressful job. And yet Patsie can find time for not one, not two, but three executive directorships on top of her taxpayer-funded job.

I really must find out how it's done. I have trouble keeping down just the one job.

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Apple patents reveal Apple TV DVR plan?

Mike Richards

Simpler solution

Come on Apple, quit mucking around, just dip into the piggy bank and buy TiVo. It can't be worth that much and you'd never notice paying for it.

Of course this is purely selfish on my part. I want Steve Jobs to spend millions simply because my Series 1 isn't going to last forever. I can't get a more modern TiVo because they pulled out of the UK after getting shafted by Sky. I'm damned if I'll get the horror that is Sky+ and there's simply no other PVR out there that has a tenth of the usability and functionality of good old TiVo.

TiVo on a Mac Mini or an Apple TV? You know it makes sense.

TiVo + Apple = the ultimate cult following should that be cultimate???

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MS said to have delayed Euro Zune debut to 2009

Mike Richards

Will there be a Zune 3???

Zune's biggest problem is that it has never been ahead of the iPod in terms of what the user wanted. Zune 1 had wifi waaay before iPod, but all you could really do with it was 'squirt' - and no one squirted (perhaps we should be grateful for that). There was also the whole brown issue.

Zune 2 looks a bit like the lovechild between the a Zen and an iPod, but compare it to Apple's current offerings it looks cheap and like something from the dark ages.

The people at Zune are good, but they seem to be unable to realise a vision of what the next generation media player should all be about. Lack of vision is a real problem across Microsoft (with the honourable exceptions of XBox and Microsoft Research) - the corporation just doesn't seem to be able to make giant leaps in thinking. So Zune's physical interface looked like an iPod (even though it didn't behave like one), Zune 2 had to have a small flash based player (like the Nano) and there's talk of a Zune Phone - like the iPhone; where are the really radical ideas that will have the folks at Apple going 'what the f---?'?

Whereas you just know Steve Jobs has a whole building of people dreaming stuff up without having to worry how it'll work - that's for another bunch of people to worry about.

Zune 3 *IF* Microsoft lets the designers loose, could be something special. But I suspect it'll be a ZunePhone or be rebranded XBox Music.

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US airforce looks to buy Californian garbage jet fuel

Mike Richards

@dervheid @Anonymous Coward @ Ishkandar

'Just HOW MUCH garbage IS required to produce a total of 1800BPD, whilst at the same time generating enough energy to support the plasma furnaces AND the gas liquefaction/refining process.'

From experience, about the same amount of garbage thrown out by an average Californian household each week

Yes a plane can fly on methane, gas turbines are remarkably unfussy what they burn. It would be less energy dense than kerosene, so range would suffer.

However the big problem is storing the fuel. It has to be liquified to be at all practical and that is a real issue. Making tanks for the wings would be bloody hard and also inefficient since they'd have relatively large surface areas in comparison to their volume, so they'd tend to heat up quicker. This would lead to real risks of icing on the wings which is a big aviation no-no. The alternative is to stick a tank into the fuselage, either by stretching the plane or by removing some of the capacity. This is a simpler, more efficient solution, but I'm not sure how the FAA would feel about passengers being in such close proximity to a large deep-frozen bomb.

Lockheed did some studies in the mid 1980s of a TriStar run on liquid hydrogen - a much more challenging fuel - and found no real problems, but there was no funding for a scheme. I also seem to recall some work being done on methane slushes for rockets and jets - take liquid methane and cool it even further into a Slushee consistency and you get even more power per kilo - but I don't think any of that technology has ever been built.

@ Ishkandar

Errr why is this process violating any law of physics? By your rules, oil refineries can't possibly work because they use the residue from fractionation to heat the stills that produce (amongst other things) - crude residue. The waste going into the furnaces contains a lot of energy, it just needs a relatively small amount of energy to release it.

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Digital TV sales soar as Brits flock to Freeview

Mike Richards

I had to buy a Freeview set...

As almost all of them are branded as such.

It doesn't matter to the bureaucrats that I've got no Freeview signal; they will still add one to the number of people enjoying the brilliant clarity of the picture breakup on BidUp TV.

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Terry Pratchett donates £500k to Alzheimer's charity

Mike Richards

Cynicism versus altruism

Ummm call me unimaginative, but does it really matter what the motivation is? People (actually, let's call them boffins) working to wipe out this disease have half a million quid today they didn't have yesterday.

Experts call this 'a very good thing'.

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The 'green' car tax grabs that don't add up

Mike Richards
Flame

Folks - it's there in the byline

' He is a Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute.'

Maybe not a name familiar to our younger readers, but these are the fine folks who brought us the poll tax, the internal market in the NHS and - you're going to love this - rail privatisation. Not content with those great ideas, ASI have also proposed privatising Royal Mail, ending free libraries and scrapping arts subsidies. Generally if something is a basic bedrock of decent society, Adam Smith is in favour of either eliminating it as a sign of socialism or flogging it off at a discount to the highest (Conservative voting) bidder.

So an article from Adam Smith proposing a tax cut for the richer part of society - how very unusual.

One question, why is El Reg suddenly posting so many - shall we be kind? - counter-arguments - against anthropogenic global warming? It'd help if any of them were posted by (oooh let's be radical) meteorologists, climatologists or geologists, but instead we get dreadful pieces authored by ex-Navy divers and people who think they know about the price of gold.

If this is now editorial policy for the Reg, may I, as a geologist, offer to op-ed a compulsive article about the next Milan fashion show?

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Wikileaks exposes Scientology's zeal to 'clean up rotten spots of society'

Mike Richards
Coat

Should that be

'One BILLION years! Mwahahahahah!'

Mine's the one with 'Xenu for President' on the back thanks.

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