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* Posts by Mike Richards

3579 posts • joined 28 Feb 2007

Ofcom says yes on more TV ads

Mike Richards
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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
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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
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Oh the humanity!

Is curiously absent.

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Phorm agrees to independent inspection of data pimping code

Mike Richards
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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
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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
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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
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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
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@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
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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
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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
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@ 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
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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
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@ 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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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@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
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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
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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
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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
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@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
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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
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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
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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
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Coat

Should that be

'One BILLION years! Mwahahahahah!'

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

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Northrop: battlefield rayguns to demo this year

Mike Richards
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Needs a tank :(

So still no chance of fitting it to a shark?

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Wider London c-charge mooted as road pricing bounces back

Mike Richards
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@ Jamie

'I have heard that there is currently talks about getting a C-Charge type zone put in place in Reading and Slough.'

Wouldn't it make more sense to charge people for avoiding Reading and Slough?

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Top security firm: Phorm is adware

Mike Richards
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Stonewalled by BT

Has *anyone* had a response from BT about Phorm/scumsuckers/WebWise?

I asked a week ago on their 'it'll all be lovely and won't someone think of the children' page and have yet to have a response. Likewise a question to their laughable technical support address has gone unanswered.

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Minister wants more mashups

Mike Richards
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"We need to build stuff small, test it, then iterate, iterate, iterate,"

Oooh I'm getting flashbacks to 'Developers! Developers! Developers!'

So he's Minister for Transformation is he? I want him to turn into a giant crime-fighting bendy bus.

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Dear ISP, I am not a target market

Mike Richards
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Phorm shares now down 30%+

If this keeps on sinking, we'll be able to club together and buy the interpimps.

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ThruVision camera shows weapons, not bodies

Mike Richards
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Excellent - sustainable surveillance

The Home Office can start publicising they are spying on the nation's groins using natural radiation generated from sustainable bodyheat and won't need to irradiate our gonads with radium after all (apart from on special occasions).

So should I stock up on tinfoil undies?

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UK presses car ferry to ship powdered plutonium

Mike Richards
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Not so worried about the plutonium

It's been rendered into the oxide which is pretty much insoluble, but I can't see why BNFL aren't using one of their two double-hulled, heavily armed ships designed specifically for transporting fuel. This smacks of a false economy which is just crying out for someone to attack - if not our fundamentalist friends, then the lentil-wearers at Greenpeace.

Plutonium isn't, despite Ralph Nader's assertions, the most toxic substance on the planet - but it is incredibly dangerous stuff. If it fell into the wrong hands, it *COULD* be used to make a bomb - there is no difference between reactor-grade and bomb-grade plutonium when it comes to going bang - one just goes bang more consistently than the other. The only way to persuade the public that nuclear power is safe and well managed is for every part of the fuel cycle to be conducted with the highest levels of security. This is clearly not the case here.

Of course, the reason we're shipping plutonium at all is because BNFL's Mox plant at Sellafield has just been declared unsalvageably crap and will never produce the fuel it is contracted to supply to energy generators. So we're sending recovered plutonium to the French Cogema plant where it will be made into usable fuel elements.

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Ten years old: the world's first MP3 player

Mike Richards
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@Glenn

Sony were late because they're not a monolithic company. Sony Electronics were more than willing to get into the player market, but Sony Records were not keen on the idea unless they could find a technological solution to copying (good luck guys) - which is why we've had to put up with SonicStage.

Apple, has no such split personality and jumped into the gaping hole that said 'make something for the average person' which had traditionally been Sony's preserve.

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'Boil a frog' ID card rollout to continue until 2012

Mike Richards
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@ Paul Fleetwood

Agree with you over Liam Byrne, in a bunch of odious careerist politicians he's one that stands out for being able to make my skin crawl just by appearing on-screen.

Isn't he the minister who's currently planning on sending a gay man back to Iran where there's a very real prospect of execution?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/a-life-or-death-decision-792058.html

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Government set to 'destroy' UK radio astronomy

Mike Richards
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@Fraser

Depressingly, John Denham, the minister in charge of science funding at DIUS, is a chemist by training.

The rest of his dog's-dinner department seem to be the usual bunch of third-rate lawyers and straight-out-of-university political science graduates, who'd get more of a kick out of an episode of 'Money Box' than they would out of 'Cosmos'.

Denham's building quite a legacy isn't he? Not content with effectively gutting the Open University, he's about to shut down British science.

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Mike Richards
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And a couple of weeks ago...

...the government was getting all warm and gooey at the thought of sending a Brit into space - possibly the quickest way to flush money down the toilet ever invented.

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Has your shifty foreign neighbour got 16 mobes?

Mike Richards
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The Home Office: Be Safe. Be Suspicious

Thousands of people phoning in because the guy on the bus next to them has two phones / took a photo containing a CCTV camera (try and find a place in London where there isn't one) / was very interested in an official building / looked a bit shifty / was one or two shades too cappuccino to be an honest citizen / for the hell of it.

As Clarkson might say, 'What could possibly go wrong?'

Oooh hold on, I've got to call the police, I don't like the look of my colleague's Sony MP3 player - he's clearly a dangerous subversive and needs to be tortured immediately.

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US Air Force: Looking for a few good cyber warriors

Mike Richards
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Cyberwarrior

Does this mean I'd get a natty outfit like Tron?

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Biometrics plan for London Olympic builders

Mike Richards
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500,000 cameras???

That's almost one camera per Starbucks!

How many people will they need to monitor half a million cameras? Ahhhh now I see how Nu Labour are going to massage the unemployment figures - everyone on incapacity benefits will become a 'trainee community surveillance operative'.

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Nokia N810 internet tablet

Mike Richards
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Connecting it...

Does the N810 still require access to a Windows machine to perform software upgrades and the like? Nokia's lack of a cross-platform desktop app for their open-source doohicky put me off the N800.

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Airport staff to be first with compulsory ID cards, say Tories

Mike Richards
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Ah very clever...

...the Home Office says ID cards are going to be compulsory for people employed in sensitive areas such as airports; all they need to do then is embrace and extend the definition of 'sensitive'.

Work with children? What could be more important than our children? So you'll need an ID card. Work in a hospital? We need to check you aren't a psychopath (there'll be a check-box on the ID card application form where you can say if you're mad). Work in Starbucks? Have you thought of the damage a terrorist could unleash with a poisoned hazelnut latte? ID card please.

Soon the only people who won't need to account for each and every movement will be MPs.

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BT targets 10,000 data pimping guinea pigs

Mike Richards
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Terms of Service getout?

I'm contracted with BT Total Broadband for a while yet. If they amend their ToS to Phorm's benefit am I within my rights to end the contract without penalty?

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Greenies give IT industry a black eye

Mike Richards
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Time for Greenpeace to show how it's done

When the back-to-the-13th-Century eco-hippies produce a useful computer built from knitted lentils and powered by recycled Guardian social worker job supplements maybe THEN we'll pay attention to their press releases.

In the meantime, mine's the dolphin skin coat with mahogany toggles.

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Data pimping: surveillance expert raises illegal wiretap worries

Mike Richards
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Phorm and paedophiles

I'm a bit confused here.

BT and other ISPs claim they are common carriers and can't intercept the bits of customers to actively hunt out illegal activities such as the trafficking of paedophile images. Instead, they insist the police get warrants to tap specific data.

But along comes Phorm and all of a sudden common carrier be buggered, BT say it's perfectly possible to intercept data in order to earn money.

If I was in the Home Office, I might be asking questions why BT and other ISPs aren't willing to help crack down on serious crime when they clearly have the tools to intercept paedophile data in real time.

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Mike Richards
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Channel 4 site

Yay! and they're even using the correct Registerese - 'data pimping'. Let's make sure that Phorm, BT and 'data pimping' become part of daily conversation:

http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/science_technology/concerns+over+data+pimping+deal/1703547

Now I wonder if they'll run the story on the television news?

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How Phorm plans to tap your internet connection

Mike Richards
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HTTPS should be okay

HTTPS uses SSL which uses two forms of encryption to guarantee speed and security. Public key cryptography gives lots of protection from the problems of key distribution, whilst symmetric cryptography - nice and fast - encrypts most of the data.

When you start an HTTPS session your machine requests a copy of an asymmetric public key held by the remote server. Your computer then generates a unique symmetric session key, a copy of which is then encrypted with the server's public key and dispatched across the net. When the server receives the encrypted session key, it uses its private key to decrypt the session key. From then on all transactions are encrypted with the session key.

Phorm could intercept the public key - but can't decrypt messages encrypted with that key. It could also intercept the encrypted session key - but again it doesn't have a decryption key. The bulk traffic of the exchange can also be intercepted, but Phorm won't have a copy of that key.

So HTTPS is safe, but there is plenty of information slopping over the Internet that could cause you lots of damage - from your emails, to just the profile that could be built from watching one of your sessions.

I am with BT and demanded a full explanation of their plans and how I can possibly trust them again. I'm also threatening them with the DPA, RIPA and Ofcom. I don't expect I'll get a useful response, so I'll be switching ISP RSN.

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DoH IT projects overshoot budgets by £247,000

Mike Richards
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ArgH!

'Lotus Notes 7 email system'

Lotus Notes email - the most evil program ever written. It's so bad it makes the rest of Notes look good.

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Polish builder sacked for humping hoover

Mike Richards
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Oh dear I can't believe I'm going to write this...

...but in the UK, the word 'hoover' is a genericised trademark.

Hoover failed to sufficiently defend their trademark on vacuum cleaners in the UK, as a consequence the word now refers to any brand of vacuum cleaner or the act of using a vacuum cleaner. Hoover aren't alone - aspirin, petrol and sellotape all used to be trademarks in the UK, but are now used when discussing any comparable brand.

Oooh I feel all dirty now.

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Swedes demand return of heraldic lion's todger

Mike Richards
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It *IS* Ireland

Iceland doesn't have a military. Ireland contributes 80 or so people to the Nordic Battlegroup, the UK is also involved in various C&C roles.

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